Ever wonder what the difference was between Shield Boosters and Armor Repairers?
Seems like a simple question and something pretty basic, but there's more to it than you think...
We all know that certain ships do better with one or the other. Caldari typically favors Shield, while Amarr tends to do better with Armor. Gallante and Minmatar are a little more flexible, however Gallente leans toward Armor and Minmatar being the most confused leans toward Shields.
So what are the differences?
First of all the Cycle Times and Amount Repaired stats are very different. The Small Shield Booster II has a Cycle Time of 2 and an Amount of 30 while the Small Armor Repairer II has a Cycle Time of 4.5 and Amount of 80. That works out to 15 HP per second for Shield and 17.78 HP per second for Armor.
As for Capacitor, the Small Shield Booster II gets 1.67 HP Repair per unit of Capacitor (with level V Shield Compensation), and the Small Armor Repairer gets 2 HP Repair per unit of Capacitor.
Seems like a big edge for Armor Reps at this point huh?
Not really, because these stats change quite a bit in real world fittings. Take for example Battleships...
X-Large Shield Booster II's repair 120 HP per second and Large Armor Repairer II's repair 71.11 HP per second. As for Capacitor the Shield Booster repairs 1.67 HP per unit of Capacitor while the Armor Repair repairs 2 HP per unit of Capacitor. Making the Armor more cap stable, but less powerful in this case.
The reason for this discrepancy is because shield boosting Battleships typically use Extra Large Shield Boosters while Armor Repping Battleships use Large Armor Repairers. In fact, in most ship classes the Shield Booster used is 1 level larger than the Armor Repairer. Frigates use Medium Shield Boosters and Cruisers often use Large, while Battlecruisers sometimes use X-Large.
Shield Boosters also give their Hit Point boost at the beginning of their Cycle, while Armor Repairs don't give any HP until the end of their cycle.
Beyond that Shield Boosting ships are typically faster than Armor Repairing ships, giving them a big edge in controlling the way a fight plays out.
In the end, it's really hard to say which is best, but personally I lean toward the Shield Boosters for two main reasons: Speed and Instant Boost
Waiting for an Armor Repair to finish it's cycle before you get any repair is scary and sometimes deadly. In many of my ships with Dual Armor Repairers, like the Sacrilege, I start one rep before I lose my shields because I have died many times before the repairer had any effect at all.