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When buying chest armor in Diablo 3, there are stats like:

+300 armor

I'm wondering what this stat does.

If we have 2 armors—one has 1000 armor and the other has 800 armor with +200 armor traits—what would be the difference?

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Where are you seeing that something has 800 armor with +200 armor traits? If you're getting that 800 from the value displayed on the item, it already includes the +200. So the 1000 armor item really is 200 armor better in that case. – bwarner Jul 26 '12 at 16:53
You sure? How do you know? – Jim Thio Jul 27 '12 at 5:25
You can easily test it by finding such an item, looking at your armor value before equipping it, and then looking at your armor value after equipping it. The same thing applies to the DPS value for a weapon, it already includes damage and attack speed bonuses on the weapon. – bwarner Jul 27 '12 at 11:39
up vote 8 down vote accepted

They're functionally equivalent, (ie, a 1000 armor item would protect you as much as a 700+300 armor item) except for a couple of notes:

  • With things like +armor (or +damage), you can exceed the stats that are offered "naturally" in the game - thereby getting more armor on your character than you could by getting gear without it. You'll find that all items that have more than a certain quantity of a given stat have +stat affixes, since this is the only way to exceed the allowable range for the item's level.
  • There's a limit to the number of affixes each item can have, depending primarily on its rarity, but modified by a few other factors. This "+armor" counts as one affix, so technically you're potentially giving up some other "feature" to get this extra armor.
  • As bwarner points out in this comment the "big number" armor stat already counts this +armor in the tooltip. The same works for +damage.

Take Archon Armor for example. This armor gives you 398-458 armor. If you want more armor than this on a set of Archon Armor, it will have to have a +armor affix. If you find some magical Archon Armor "of the Fortress" this will add 218-360 armor to the base amount. However, since magical items can only have 1-3 affixes, that "affix slot" with "of the Fortress" in it is used, and you've only got 0-2 other possible affixes for other benefits to be applied.

Whether or not this matters depends on what stats you consider to be important for your character, and how much each individual point effects your overall effectiveness in combat. When trying to compare an item with, say a +armor affix versus a +resist all affix, I use a calculator like this one to estimate the effective hit points I gain per point of a given stat.

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I am not sure that the armor written already includes the + armor thingy – Jim Thio Jul 27 '12 at 5:26
@JimThio, the easiest way to confirm this is go search in the AH for level 60 rare armor. Sort by armor, descending, and you'll find multiple bits of armor above the max. For instance, right now I searched and found a set of Archon Armor with +397 armor, where the "big armor number" read 847. Archon armor ranges from 398-458, so there's no way to get 847 without adding the +397 affix. However, if its base armor was 450 (within the Archon Armor range), 450+397 = 847 – agent86 Jul 27 '12 at 12:55

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