I came across something rather strange today: improving armor with no perks, 4x 29% fortify smithing enchanted items, and a 130% fortify smithing potion (made via 4x 29% alchemy enchantments), I was able to improve ebony armor to 99 points, but glass armor to 102 points.

That's in spite of the fact that (according to the uesp wiki) ebony armor's base is 43, and the base for glass is 38, so ebony should come out at least +5 over glass.

Can anyone reproduce this result? Any theories on why it happened?

I had previously improved the glass armor to legendary with lower quality gear (4x 25% enchanted gear, possible also 120% potion, made with 4x 25% alchemy gear).

  • Why go through the enchanting/alchemy/smithing cycle when you lack armor perks? A non-upgraded ebony chest with heavy armor perks is 129 armor before considering heavy armor skill. A non-upgraded glass chest with light armor perks is 114 armor before considering light armor skill.
    – Amy B
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 20:44
  • It's on a spellcaster, so I went through the enchanting/alchemy/smithing cycle first because I was wearing Archmage's robes + Mask of Morokei instead of armor. The perks didn't make sense to invest in until I was wearing some armor, and I felt I needed max enchanting before I'd be better off than Archmage's robes (and before it'd be worth spending the Grand souls, which were expensive before dual enchants and max alchemy made me rich). Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 4:33

2 Answers 2


I'm betting that your light armor skill is loads higher than your heavy armor skill.

The base armor on an item (that is improved with smithing) is only half of the formula - this is increased by your light or heavy armor ratings.

I'd re-compare the results when your Light and Heavy armor skills are equal.

  • 2
    That's right...I hadn't taken any perks, so I wasn't thinking about the skills, but my light armor is around 41, and my heavy armor is around 16, so it must just be the skill differential. Thanks! Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 20:38

The value you see displayed in-game is modified by your skill level -- if your Light Armor skill is higher than your Heavy Armor skill, and/or you have more armor rating perks in the former than in the latter, you will see a higher rating on the glass than on the ebony; in fact, you'll see this same result on un-improved versions of both -- neither will show the base value that UESP shows, and I'll wager you see a higher rating on the glass than the ebony.

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