Mists of Pandaria - How to Upgrade Items and its Impact in PvP | Patch 5.1

by Rugmouse // January 3, 2013

This guide was created in collaboration with Craze, Necrolina, and Carryme, produced by SkillCapped. All of our written guides are available for free, and we encourage you to post them wherever you’d like as long as you use a link back!

Table of Contents

  1. What is Item Upgrading?
  2. Where can I Upgrade my Gear?
  3. How does Item Upgrading Work?
  4. Percentage Based Increases – How the Math Works
  5. How does Item Upgrading Affect my Gear Acquisition?
  6. Summary

What is Item Upgrading?

Item upgrading, with respect to PvP, allows you to increase the iLvL of your acquired gear by spending PvP currencies (Honor and Conquest Points). Below you will find a list of pertinent PvP Gear for Season 12, along with the cost to upgrade each piece of gear:

  • Contenders – Unable to Upgrade
  • Dreadful – 1500 Honor Points – +8 iLvL
  • Malevolent - 750 Conquest Points – +4 iLvL – Can be Upgraded x2

Where can I Upgrade my Gear?

Item upgrade vendors reside in each faction’s respective Pandarian Capital. Both cities, Shrine of Two Moons (Horde) and Shrine of Seven Stars (Alliance), are located in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms zone. Upon entering your capital city, you will find the Item Upgrade Vendor near the Transmogrifier and the Reforging vendors (Consortium model NPCs).  The Item Upgrade vendors can also be found near the Reforging vendors in Orgrimmar and Storm Wind.

How Does Item Upgrading Work?

As mentioned earlier in this article, item upgrading allows you to spend currency to increase the iLvL of your gear. The impact on your gear is a flat percentage increase to all of the stats on that particular item. For example, when upgrading [Dreadful Gladiator's Silk Cowl], you will notice a 7.5% increase in all of the stats, including the primary stats (Intellect and Stamina), along with all of the secondary stats on the item (Crit, Mastery, PvP Power, and PvP Resilience). This percentage will vary fractionally across the item stats simply due to rounding – but on average it is a 7.5% increase, give or take a couple tenths of a percent. When upgrading epic quality pieces, such as [Malevolent Gladiator's Silk Cowl], you’ll notice a roughly 3.75% increase in item stats per upgrade, resulting in a 7.5% end result.

Percentage Based Increases – How the Math Works

Generally speaking, when you apply a percentage increase to a number, the base number will play an important role in how much additional stats are awarded. Let’s use two Malevolent gear pieces with the same iLvL as an example: [Malevolent Gladiator's Cord of Cruelty] and [Malevolent Gladiator's Pendant of Cruelty].


When fully upgraded, both the Belt and the Neck used in this example will have roughly 7.5% more stats. That being said, upgrading these items will net you very different stat gains. In this example, the Belt has a higher base Intellect value than the Neck, so the overall change in Intellect after upgrading is greater (+56 Intellect for Belt vs. +46 Intellect for Neck) once upgraded. Prioritizing the items that yield the best primary and secondary stat upgrades for your particular character, while also taking into consideration the base values for each stat, will ensure you are gearing your character in the most efficient way possible. The Skill-Capped Gearing Guides were designed in a way to optimize your gear acquisition order, while keeping in mind Primary and Secondary Stat base values. Utilizing these guides as an Item Upgrade order template will be equally as efficient.  Note: Malevolent Weapons and On-Use Throughput Trinkets are an EXCEPTION to this!  See below for more detail.

How Does Item Upgrading Affect My Gear Acquisition?

Generally speaking, item upgrading will give you flat percentage increases to your stats. This means you will be increasing the effectiveness of your character and thus improving your likelihood of success in PvP. That being said, there are ways you can ensure you are spending your currencies in the most efficient manner. In conjunction with Item Upgrading, you must also take into consideration the magnitude of the stat increases going from Contenders to Dreadful, or Dreadful to Malevolent.


Contenders to Dreadful

The 7.5% increase to stat allocation holds true from Contenders to Dreadful (8 item levels separate the two gear sets). You may notice that some Dreadful stats are lower than their Contenders counterparts, but this is simply due to Dreadful gear benefiting from gem slots and set bonuses. Upgrading Contenders to Dreadful is definitely worth the honor allocation.


Dreadful Upgrades

In terms of stat increases, upgrading from Contenders to Dreadful is EQUIVALENT to upgrading Dreadful gear. Both item upgrade methods offer a 8 iLvL increase. That being said, Dreadful main set should be fully acquired (or at the very least, the four-set should be activated) prior to upgrading Dreadful pieces. Gem slots offer more customization and also offer you PvP set bonuses. Once your main set is completed, you may choose to upgrade Dreadful items that yield the most beneficial primary and secondary stats (see Dreadful acquisition order for your respective class guide to assist in this) as you gear your character.


Dreadful to Malevolent

Upgrading from Dreadful to Malevolent is an estimated 26% increase in stats. This is a significant boost to stats and should be valued highly. Malevolent Weapons are always your biggest upgrade, as there are no Dreadful weapons this season.  Upgrading from PvE Weapons to PvP Weapons should be done as soon as possible.


Malevolent Weapon Upgrades

One question that continuously pops up is the dilemma of when to upgrade your PvP Weapons. When considering weapons, you must look at the item upgrading system as a whole. What we know, is 8 item levels will net you roughly a 7.5% increase in stats allocated to that item; this holds true for weapons as well. In the case of weapons, there are more stats that directly benefit your damage output than typical armor pieces, most notably – the MASSIVE increases to PvP Power and stand alone Spellpower allocations.


For example, the [Malevolent Gladiator's Spellblade] has Intellect, PvP Power, AND Spellpower, which means instead of increasing your damage by 7.5% via more Intellect and PvP Power, you are also increasing damage or healing output by an additional stat due to the stand-alone Spellpower allocation. Percentage based increases to numbers grow in effectiveness the larger the base number. Because the Spellpower and PvP Power values are MASSIVE when compared to any Intellect stat on other items (1 Intellect is the equivalent of 1 Spellpower), upgrading weapons will outweigh any other item purchase. This is the basic rationale as to why ALL classes and specs will benefit the most from upgrading WEAPONS WITH MULTIPLE DAMAGE stat allocations (Int and Spellpower, Agility and Weapon DPS, etc). Off-hands do not offer stand alone increases (other than Rogues, dual-wield Windwalker Monks or Enhance Shaman), and thus, should be treated as any other equipment slot.  Dual-Wield classes should upgrade both Main-Hand and Off-Hand weapons.


It is also of note that once you upgrade your Tier 1 weapon, those upgrades will hold for when you hit 2200 and meet the requirements for the elite version of the weapons! There will be no need to ‘re-upgrade’ weapons.


Malevolent Upgrades

Apart from weapon upgrades, the only other Malevolent upgrade that should take precedence over upgrading Dreadful to Malevolent gear should be any On-Use Throughput trinkets ([Malevolent Gladiator's Badge of Victory] as an example).  On-Use trinket buffs will generally provide very large amounts of Spellpower/Agility/Strength.  As we know, large base values will benefit more from percentage based increases!  Following the acquisition order presented in your Gearing Guide, upon obtaining your On-Use trinket, upgrade it fully before moving on to the next item.  Other Malevolent upgrades should only be done AFTER you have amassed the entire set. Again, upgrading from Dreadful to Malevolent results in a 26% increase in stats across the board, whereas item upgrades only net you a 7.5% increase.  When choosing your upgrade order, consult your respective class and spec gearing guide for an optimal selection hierarchy.


Below you will find a hierarchy that gives you a quick summary as to how to spend your appropriate PvP Currencies wisely:

Honor Points

Contenders > Contenders to Dreadful = Dreadful Upgrades

Conquest Points

Malevolent Weapon and Upgrades > On-Use Throughput Trinket and Upgrades
> Dreadful to Malevolent

There are also a few key features that should be considered when making Item Upgrade decisions:

  • +8 iLvL is about a 7.5% increase in stats – +4 iLvL is 3.75%
  • Base stat values matter – higher stats will be larger upgrades
  • Prioritize Secondary stats that are the most beneficial to your class and spec
  • Consult your respective Skill-Capped Gearing Guide for assistance!

Good Luck!

This guide was created in collaboration with Craze, Necrolina, and Carryme, produced by SkillCapped. All of our written guides are available for free, and we encourage you to post them wherever you’d like as long as you use a link back!

  • 0
    18 months ago
    Could someone update this?
  • 0
    20 months ago
    @Anthoneo - sorry for the late response...I actually didn't notice there was a comment that wasn't addressed =(

    Assuming you are a DPS class, the on-use trinkets provide very large boosts to your spellpower/agility/strength when you activate the effect. While the base PvP Power/Resilience values aren't anything spectacular, the additional On-Use stats provided from the upgrade ends up being an incredible increase in damage when you pop your cooldowns. Since burst is a HUGE factor in PvP this season, any additional damage you can provide during your kill attempts will be highly valued.

    Take the Spellpower on use trinket as an example. Prior to upgrading, the On-use effect adds 2553 spellpower (the trinkets were hotfixed and the tooltips are not yet updated). Once fully upgraded, the trinket gives you roughly 2750 spellpower. That is the equivalent of adding 197 Intellect in terms of damage output! The ring only offers a +46 increase in Intellect once upgraded (as an example).
  • 0
    20 months ago
    I am somewhat confused by this. I did upgrade my Weapon before purchasing other Conquest gear, that was rather obviously the thing to do. However I find myself now with only one ring to go before having full Malevolent gear, yet if I read this guide correctly I should upgrade my on use Trinket first. However the stat gains from the ring upgrade are far more than the token Resil and PvP Power I appear to get from the Trinket upgrade...what am I missing here?
  • 2
    21 months ago
    On Use trinkets should be purchased after obtaining weapons (and your weapon is fully upgraded). All relevant guides have been updated to reflect this change.
  • 0
    21 months ago
    Excellent guide =)
  • -1
    21 months ago
    Golf clap guys this should clear up a lot of recent questions on forums
  • 0
    21 months ago
    @Kxero - Sorry, I probably should have been a bit more clear on the trinkets. Basically you should follow the gear order, but when your guide has you purchase your on-use trinket, you should upgrade it prior to moving on to the next piece.

    @Carvas - The reasoning behind NOT upgrading your Battlemasters until you amass the entire set is this: the additional health from the Battlemasters is effectively giving you more Stamina, which is one of the weakest stats that can be accumulated. Gaining additional PvP Resilience will actually net you more survivability than the additional 7.5% 'stamina' awarded. Plus, PvP Resilience is active all the time.

    Hope this clears that up!
  • 1
    21 months ago
    This guide says CP usage should be, weapon + upgrade > trinket + upgrade > rest of the gear, then upgrade all that

    But in the gearing articles the trinkets themselves are (or seem to be) low priority, should we be picking the CP on-use trinkets early on then or...?
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