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Is the minimum level of an item based on the base item type? Or is it based on the affixes that are generated? Or is it based on the underlying level of the item, which may not actually translate into any good affixes? It sometimes seems like identical items can have widely different minimum levels.

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What level do you mean? Required level to equip it? – ayckoster May 29 '12 at 13:29
@Ayckoster Yes, the required level to equip. – bwarner May 29 '12 at 13:30
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's based upon the base item, which can be found in the Blizzard Game Guide . In turn, the availiable affixes and magnitude thereof are also restricted by this.

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How does this work with things like Jewelry that don't have a base item type? Or are there a bunch of different base level jewelry and you just can't distinguish them by name? – bwarner May 29 '12 at 13:33
Two things that are rather obvious once you know them but still may be worth mentioning: required level to equip is affected by the Reduced Level Requirement affix; item levels determine both required level and the quality of affixes. Affixes are still random though, so a low item level item may have good rolls that give it the same stats as a higher item level item with bad rolls. – Brythan Aug 7 '13 at 3:04

The required level to equip an item is determined by the base item.

Here is how an item looks like in a lookup table.

Battle Axe:

  • REQ LEVEL: 17
  • MIN/MAX DMG: 12-23
  • ATK PER SEC: 1.30

As you see the required level is determined by the item itself.

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It's based on the Item BUT whoever can also be changed due to it's affixes. For example a level 60 item can have "- 9 req. level" which means you can already equip it on a level 51 char.

This affixes is pretty rare though, but comes in very handy if you play with another char.

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