My current character is a Barbarian, and I have been playing him 100% offensively (i.e. no shield). I often switch between dual weapons and 2-hand weapons, depending on what the latest unique weapon is.

However, I'm not sure if I'm doing the comparisons effectively. There are factors like overall damage, attack speed, etc to consider, and I have only really just been focussing on the overall damage that the weapon (or weapons if dual wielding) can deal.

So what collection of information/calculations should be considered when selecting new weapons?

3 Answers 3


Aside from usual non-obvious stuff like Area damage, Skill damage and Sockets, there is one main issue when comparing dual wielding to two-handers.

It is weapon damage (not damage per second, note that character screen does show your overall DPS, despite saying "damage"). Two-handed weapons have drastically higher damage per swing, but do less attacks per second. While this is not an issue for skills that depend on Fury or generate it, it matters a whole lot for cooldown-based skills.

Simplified example:

  • Two swords with 1 APS (+15% for dual wielding) and 90-110 damage - 115 weapon DPS
  • Two-handed mace with 0,625 APS and 180-220 damage - 115 weapon DPS.

Using Cleave, both these setups will deal 115*200% = 230 DPS.

But Earthquake, that is based on cooldown, will deal 4800% weapon damage per 60 seconds, regardless of weapon attack speed!

  • 90-110 damage - average 4800 damage per minute,
  • 180-220 damage - average 9600 damage per minute.

In short: remember that most heavy cooldown-based skills ignore your weapon speed. If you are running a Leapquake build, get that two-hander.

  • 1
    Also consider that some/most cooldown based abilities (Rain of Vengeance for Demon Hunter comes to mind), only the Main Hand damage value is selected. So if you have a strong ancient 1h, it might still be better than some non-ancient 2h you got (unless you need the legendary affix of the 2h for something, as is often the case).
    – KizTrap
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 8:41

Another issue is that channeled skills use mana per swing. So if you have two weapons with equal DPS, the slower one will use less mana (or whatever resource) over time. This is why some channeled skills work better with slow two-handed weapons than fast one-handed weapons.

Example source: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5271778070#2

Of course, if you start using a generator skill instead of the channeled skill, that flips around. Or if you have a critical hit based build. You have to balance how you actually use your skills.

  • +1 thanks for mentioning crit-based builds. I noticed the same with builds where the skills rely on a proc per hit
    – Senmurv
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 10:57

What i always do is compare the stats that do not show up in your damage list. These are the stats with the orange dot infront of them and are likely skills as area damage, x skill damage etc.

Now you want to know what is your main skill that deals damage, on my barbarian whirlwind, rend is what deals most of m damage so i look for gear with those skills.

Alot of people do not understand when you get a 15% increase on a skill your damage goes higher than by a bit strenght.

You also want to check weapons without socket, if there is no socket and you have a stat not worth your build just enchant it, get rid of it and get a socket. There is also a stone which will create a socket at the cost of no stat, so incase you have a perfect item with stats that you need save it till you find that stone. Ps. forgot the name of the stone, if anyone can mention it that would be great.

Also there is this website called diablofans.com they have builds for all classes and give you the items and stats you should be looking for, saves you alot of work if you dont want to think to much and some guides can get you really far by just following them.

  • Ramaladni's Gift. :)
    – Senmurv
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 11:01

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