What is both the most efficient way to reach the cap of 85% physical damage reduction (567 Armor)?

Can it be reached without smithing/enchanting perks? Is it more efficient to not get some smithing or enchanting perks and just get heavy armor perks? Or is there some combination of crafting and heavy armor perks that gets to 567 armor with a smaller investment of perk points?

For purposes of this question, most efficient is defined as the smallest possible amount of perks used to acquire the stated physical damage reduction, passively - i.e. without popping pots (temporary) or using extra buffs from stones, blessings, or +Heavy Armor skill enchants (to keep those slots on equipment free for other enhancements). Also, any skill used to achieve this can be assumed to be leveled to 100 (for example Heavy Armor could be assumed to be already leveled to 100).

  • I don't think you'll be able to achieve it without at least 1 smithing perk as you can't improve anything to legendary status without it. Also, you'll probably want the smith perk for enhancing enchanted gear. Now the question is... is it possible to achieve the 567 armor required with just steel armor.
    – l I
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 1:20
  • 1
    @yx. Don't need the perk to enhance enchanted - make it first, upgrade it second, enchant it third.
    – Amy B
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 2:08
  • @AmyB, I think the armor rating will still go down as per this question
    – l I
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 2:21
  • Strange because everyone talks about 576 armor cap I have all Daedric armor 100 HA 100 Smithing and to enhance it I used 20% necklace 17% gauntlets and a 50% potion bought from potion lady in Whiterun and my Armor Rating says 980 so either i'm readin g it wrong or the 400ish abouve 576 just dont count. Oh and by the way at lvl 61 those darn Master mage dudes and Forsworn Bravehearts still obliterate me and I need to do a lot of healing toe to toe against even Ancient dragons
    – user19698
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:34
  • 567 is not a number that your armor can't go over, it's just the number when additional armor does nothing. Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Ran some console commands in the name of Science!

First, I leveled light armor to see the effect that skill has on armor rating.

Imperial Armor chest

  • 25 armor at 15 skill.
  • 33 armor at 100 skill.

Well, that's underwhelming. The rest of the numbers in this post are with 100 light armor skill.

Then I maxed smithing and started crafting.

  • 74 - 4 piece leather - no perks
  • 119 - upgraded with 100 smithing
  • 238 - agile defender 5/5 (cleanly doubled the value)
  • 357 - custom fit, matching set (and another 50% on top)

So much for unperk-able leather. How about elven?

  • 297 - 5 piece elven armor, agile defender 5/5, custom fit, matching set
  • 528 - upgraded with 100 smithing, elven smithing perk
  • 610 - upgraded with 130 smithing by using Ring of Smithing (+15) and Necklace of Smithing (+15), elven smithing perk
  • 537 - same, but shield-less

Elven armor is the lightest armor I'm aware of. 4 piece is 7 units of weight. 5 piece is 11 units of weight. With this low weight, you can easily skip armor weight reducing perks.

Then I headed off to the enchanting station for one last test. I enchanted with fortify armorer and saw no change to armor rating after the enchant. I recommend skipping the arcane blacksmith perk if you are planning to wear only your own crafted armor. Just upgrade before enchanting. (Ignore what the enchanting table tells you about armor rating, it's wrong.)

That's 2 smithing perks, and 7 light armor perks. With 100 skill in light armor and smithing, you'll be level 26 and easily able to afford these perks.

Can you skip the 2 smithing perks? Possibly. You'll need to compensate by raising smithing skill (much) higher, but if you're already choosing enchanting perks and/or alchemy perks for other reasons...

TLDR: You can reach 610 armor rating with 9 perks and minor un-perked assistence from alchemy or enchanting. 567 is the armor cap.

  • I thought about trying with steel armor, but... heavy armor weight reducing perk is in a bad place in the tree.
    – Amy B
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 6:09
  • You can hit the cap with hide armor as long as you stack enchanting or alchemy (no perks required, just more money). Honestly, it's worth grabbing the armor perks
    – Domocus
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 6:17
  • Thanks @AmyB I am going to have to do some testing myself when I have the time D=... (too much time taken up actually playing). I will count this as an answer until someone else comes up with something better. Domocus can you really get that with Hide armor? When I had my smithing pumped and with a (though my alchy wasn't maxed and hadn't done alchy/ench stackin) I wasn't able to get anywhere close. Also... for this... no console commands to get something you couldn't normally have. Then again... I don't think my light armor skill was up >_<.
    – Goblinlord
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 7:09
  • @Domocus That is NOT with no perks. That requires enchanting and alchemy perks. I think it also requires the light armor perks.
    – agf
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 1:37
  • @agf It can still be done, just takes longer.
    – Domocus
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 16:09

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