“Powering up” your Pokémon by spending Stardust and Candies increases their CP, level (hidden), and performance in battle. Sounds tempting, right? Hold on to your Stardust for a bit longer though, there’s a lot to take into consideration before deciding to power up a Pokémon!

First off: Stardust is one of the scarcest resources in the game. With the recent additions of Star Pieces and the Stardust bonus that comes with catching a weather boosted Pokémon, it’s a little easier to come by — but consider that it takes 225,000 Stardust to power up a Pokémon from level 20 to 40 (max). Assuming that you average 125 Stardust per catch, that’s 1800 Pokémon that need to be caught just to completely power up one!

One power-up increases your Pokémon’s level by one half. A Pokémon can be powered up to its Trainer’s level +2. Leveling up allows you to power it up twice more (gain 1 more level).

(Note: A Pokémon’s level cannot be directly seen in-app, but it can be approximated by the power-up Stardust cost. An IV calculator can be used to find a specific Pokémon’s level.)

Pokémon’s Current Level
Stardust Required
Candies Required
1 – 2.5 200 1
3 – 4.5 400 1
5 – 6.5 600 1
7 – 8.5 800 1
9 – 10.5 1000 1
11 – 12.5 1300 2
13 – 14.5 1600 2
15 – 16.5 1900 2
17 – 18.5 2200 2
19 – 20.5 2500 2
21 – 22.5 3000 3
23 – 24.5 3500 3
25 – 26.5 4000 4
27 – 28.5 4500 4
29 – 30.5 5000 4
31 – 32.5 6000 6
33 – 34.5 7000 8
35 – 36.5 8000 10
37 – 38.5 9000 12
39 – 40 10000 15

Since TM’s are now in the game, it is a viable option to power up a Pokémon before evolving it as undesirable movesets can be changed. However, it’s still recommended to evolve first, as you may find a better IV or higher leveled version of that Pokémon while powering it up you might as well save your resources for the better one.

To effectively use your Stardust to build a solid battling team, the four main things that should be considered are the Pokémon’s level, breakpoints, IV’s, and the Pokémon’s relevance in the current and future meta game.

Catching High-Leveled Pokémon in the Wild

At lower levels, a Pokémon needs only a few hundred Stardust to be powered up. After level 30, though, the Stardust cost increases significantly as CP gain per power-up is cut by half. At level 30, the Pokémon is approximately 90% as powerful as it will ever be.

This might discourage players from powering up their ‘mons beyond level 30, but thanks to the newly introduced weather system, wild Pokémon encounters can now be 5 levels above that of the trainer’s (up to level 35). This saves thousands of Stardust in the long run, so try to find high-leveled wild Pokémon that are worth powering up!

Breakpoints and Dealing Damage

Pokémon GO’s damage formula does not cause a Pokémon’s damage output to increase linearly as it is powered up instead, the Pokémon’s damage increases at level breakpoints. Breakpoints are influenced by the Pokémon’s base stats, the particular Pokémon’s IV’s, and the defensive stats of the opponent.

As Pokémon usually max out their fast moves’ damage at lower levels, it is recommended to consult a spreadsheet such as jop.space to take a look at what level your Pokémon would perform best at in its specific role. For example, a Machamp with an attack IV of 15 would max out its Counter’s damage against Tyranitar raid boss at level 36.

Individual Values (IV’s)

IV’s are hidden stats of each individual Pokémon which affect their battling performance due to breakpoints. Some Pokémon with lower attack IV’s max out their damage output against a particular defender at a higher level. For example, a Machamp with an attack IV of 10 would max out its Counter damage against raid boss Tyranitar at level 38.5 as opposed to level 36. That’s a difference of 43,000 Stardust!

Relevance in the Meta

Okay, so maybe this point isn’t the most important of course you can power up your personal favorites even if their roles in the meta are limited. But here are some of the safest power-up choices that will stay relevant for many months to come.

Tyranitar A Rock and Dark typed beast that will be an amazing team member for future legendary raids, dealing heavy super-effective damage to Rayquaza, Mewtwo, Latios, Latias, (speculated) Deoxys, Jirachi, and Celebi.
Rayquaza Rayquaza will have one of the highest Attack stats of any Dragon type and will be an incredible asset in raiding other Dragon-type legendary bosses. It deals more damage than Dragonite, and even works as a Flying attacker as well.
Machamp A high-performance Fighting type and arguably one of the most meta-relevant Pokémon in the game. It’s a prime counter to the popular gym defenders Snorlax, Blissey and Tyranitar, all current Tier 4 raid bosses (except for Feraligatr), and to the future legendary raid bosses Regirock, Regice, and Registeel.
Raikou Living up to its title of a Legendary Beast, Raikou is the best Electric-type and a brilliant counter to the abundant Water types in the game.
Blissey The tankiest Pokémon across all generations, Blissey Normal won’t be unseated as the queen of Gym defense in the foreseeable future.
Kyogre Gyarados and Vaporeon are great, but they have nothing on this Water-type sea monster. Great in Tyranitar and Regirock raids, and will destroy any Dragon type with Blizzard.
Groudon Groudon is a great Ground type which vastly outperforms Rhydon; it gets Mud Shot, a much faster quick move than Rhydon’s Mud Slap, and will be a great asset in future Regirock and Registeel raids. It’s tanky and powerful enough to be used as a bulky gym sweeper as well — its only drawback here is that its Ground-type moves aren’t effective on Flying defenders such as Dragonite.