The Diablo 4 item power breakpoints are a strange and secretive system that determines how good a piece of dropped gear really is. If you're used to playing games with item power, you may assume that you can just keep equipping stronger items as you find them in the game, and that's certainly true when you're playing through the campaign.
However, once you decide to unlock Nightmare world tier, or even Torment, and want to start creating a strong build to tackle tough content, you can't just keep equipping every new item, and you'll likely find that items with higher power don't drop as often. So, which items are worth investing in? This is partly where Diablo 4 item power breakpoints come into play, so let's dive in.
Diablo 4 item power breakpoints explained
There are six tiers of item power in Diablo 4 that determine an item's overall stats and the stat ranges it can roll. Here are the different item power breakpoints:
|1||1 - 149|
|2||150 - 339|
|3||340 - 459|
|4||460 - 624|
|5||625 - 724|
|6||725 and up|
You can see item power in practice when you upgrade an item at the Blacksmith or Jeweler past one of these breakpoints, since it'll receive a far bigger bump to its stats, as you can see in the screenshot of the Scythe above that's being upgraded past the final breakpoint. This is because its affixes and stats are being rerolled in line with the new higher stat ranges of that breakpoint.
Generally, you should prioritise items that are high power or can reach past the highest breakpoint via upgrades. While the power of item drops is linked to level, it also seems to be affected by world tier in terms of Sacred and Ancestral items. These two gear types unlock at Nightmare and Torment world tier respectively, and often roll higher stats and item power than their regular counterparts.
Ancestral items, in particular, seem to drop above that top 725 power cap, meaning that Torment world difficulty is the best place for endgame builds, as 90% of the items you're working with can reach their max stat and affix potential, letting you choose the best from among them. An Ancestral Unique helmet, for instance, will almost always be better than a Sacred Unique, and that's partly because it's dropping above that final 725 power cap.
Still, as you're rerolling stats and affixes when you upgrade over a breakpoint, there's every chance that the item that comes out might be proportionally worse, so it's well worth turning on tooltips so you can see the new stat ranges and where your item lands in relation to them. It's also quite expensive to put five upgrades into a 701 power item just to potentially get a bad roll when it passes the breakpoint, but if it's 715 power, it doesn't cost all that much to just do a few to see how it turns out.