So I was messing around with that whole try-hard thing with enchanting a set of armor with +alchemy and +blacksmithing and making +blacksmithing potions then wearing the armor and drinking the potion to upgrade your normal set of armor so you would get a super set of armor.
The problem is that when I did this, even after upgrading the armor, the game seemed to ignore the new upgraded armor values and only assigned me the base armor value of the item.
So I made a test character and spawned multiple sets of Ancient Nord Armor pre-enchanted with Alchemy and Blacksmithing. Made blacksmithing potions and then upgraded a base set of Ancient Nord Armor:
As you can see in the screenshot, the helmet itself is 474 armor and equipped but my character is only listed as having 187 armor (which is the base total value of Ancient Nord Armor + the Banded shield).
I'm not overencumbered. I don't have any diseases or debuffs.
Here is the screen Shots. I have not equipped my Shield so its not in this factor as my Shield is 98 Armor Rating. Also these are all Legendary peaces that have been enchanted. Now the enchants on them do not change the base Armor level.
I have a glitch in my game which I can't reliably re-create that causes about 10% of my potions to have 5-8x their normal value. I don't actually know what causes it and I don't actually know how to forcibly make it happen.
So I made the set using one of the bugged potions (which gave me like a 1308% boost to blacksmithing).
It actually doesn't really matter either way since as far as I am aware, there is a hidden armor cap of 579 (I think that's the value, something around that). It's just the bug of not recognizing that is annoying me.
Bugged potion: i.imgur.com/Ikh1Z.jpg
It doesn't happen all the time though, for example a 2h buff pot I just made: i.imgur.com/Cs1zy.jpg
And what's more confusing about the armor bug is that just like the potion bug, it doesn't happen all the time.
Right now, it recognizes my armor: i.imgur.com/Ap6rh.jpg
Damage reduction is capped at 80%. If you are wearing all four pieces of armor, this occurs at 567 displayed armor rating. If you have 100 skill and all relevant armor perks, this requires a smithed armor rating of about 135. You can increase your smithed armor rating by 1 roughly every 2 points of Smithing with the appropriate perk, or every 4 without. Therefore, at 100 Smithing you will need 85 base armor with the appropriate perk, which is not achievable with Light Armor (though Dragonscale comes close at 82 for the set) and requires at least a Steel Plate set for Heavy Armor. With Fortify Smithing apparel you can boost Smithing even further, which can potentially allow any material for which a Smithing perk exists to reach the cap. At the extreme end, you will need about 126 Smithing to make Steel Armor hit the cap, and about 154 Smithing for an Elven set. Unfortunately, Fur, Hide, Studded, Leather, and Iron armors are not affected by any Smithing perks and so cannot be improved as much.
With the aid of enchanting (fortify smithing) and pre-made enchanting and smithing potions, and of course the appropriate armor perks, you can reach the armor cap with any style or type of armor in the game, even hide and iron armor. All without even using a shield.
Spells and the Lord Stone can reduce the base armor required to hit the cap even further, but these require more management.