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Xerath Build Guide by MerlinM1S

AP Carry Xerath - Make your lightning frightening

AP Carry Xerath - Make your lightning frightening

Updated on January 5, 2013
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League of Legends Build Guide Author MerlinM1S Build Guide By MerlinM1S 5 3 7,913 Views 9 Comments
5 3 7,913 Views 9 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author MerlinM1S Xerath Build Guide By MerlinM1S Updated on January 5, 2013
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LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


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Support Role
Ranked #13 in
Support Role
Win 51%
Get More Stats
Support Role Ranked #13 in
Support Role
Win 51%
More Xerath Runes


Hi, I'm MerlinM1S and welcome to my Xerath guide.

While at the first glance xerath seems to be a standard mid AP-carry, he excels every other one in range. Because of that he is a lot of fun to play and even if you got a bad start you can still help your team due to your great range and inbuilt stun.

If you haven't already, I highly recommend watching the champion spotlight of Xerath:

Spotlight of Xerath before the pre-season patch

If you have been playing LoL for quite a while, you are probably wondering why Xerath is not only fun, but also a viable pick for normal and ranked games.

If so, start with "Why did Xerath become viable?" section.
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Pros / Cons


  • Great-Range: All of Xeraths abilities have a good range, but with his locus of power activated they become insane.
  • Relatively easy to land his stun: Xerath has two AoE-abilities which can activate mage chains mark. This will become really easy with Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
  • Insane AoE Damage: You can not only kill their carries, but you'll deal damage to all other opponents around.
  • Poke-power: Arcanopulse can be used like Nidalees Javelin Toss to poke enemies before the actual teamfight starts and to harass your mid opponent.
  • Tower-Defense: Enemies wave incomming? Active Locus of Power, use Arcanopulse, wait... use Arcanopulse again. Which enemies?


  • Early farming: Can be a bit difficult, because you can't spend a lot of mana to farm with Arcanopulse
  • Lack of Magic Resistance: This shouldn't be a great problem, because you should be out of range for most AP-carries.
  • Requiers accuracy: If you don't like champions with skill shots, Xerath is probably not the best pick for you (although it gets easier to hit with Rylai's Crystal Scepter)
  • Blue Buff dependent: Needs Crest of the Ancient Golem to become most effective (Cd and mana reg.)
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Greater Mark of Insight
Magic pen. is great for every caster. Especially for Xerath, who can easily deal true damage to his opponents.

Greater Seal Scaling Ability Power
Even a little bit of more AP can change the outcome of a whole game ;).

Greater Glyphs of Scaling Ability Power
More Damage ... again. They are better than Greater Glyph of Ability Power because they already offer more AP at level 6.

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Give you 15 AP to begin with. Thats a lot. You will be able to farm and harass better.

Other Options

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I prefer standard 21 0 9 masteries with Xerath.Offense Tree:
You don't have much choice for a AP-caster in the offense tree, but you definitely want that extra bit of damage. I did take Spellsword instead of 3/3 in Mental Force , because 2 extra AP isn't that much, but later on - when you have about 500 AP - Spellsword gives you 25 extra damage while autoattacking. If you do have big problems last-hitting with your normal auto-attacks, you could consider Butcher instead of full 4/4 Sorcery, but you won't get any CdR till late game and getting a bit more early on is quite nice.

Utility Tree:
Meditation is great, because Xerath can devour quite a lot of mana. While Expanded Mind gives you overall more mana to spend. Probably the best mastery here is Runic Affinity , which gives 20% more buff duration and you want to keep blue buff as long as possible.
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Summoner Spells

Basic Choices

Probably the most common spell in the whole game. It helps you escape dangerous situations such as ganks, skill shots and greeting the enemy team alone. Furthermore you can Flash aggressively onto an enemy to secure the kill ;). (Although Xerath most of the time doesn't have range problems)

While this Summoner will become less useful as soon as teamfights start (because you normally won't get in range for a good target), it's great in laning phase. Many people underestimate Xerath's power when he hits level 6. Ignite will get you the extra bit of damage that you will need during a skirmish with your opponent.

Possible other Choices

  • Teleport: A good choice if you want to play passively on your lane and just farm. Furthermore you can setup a good gank with your teammates by teleporting to a ward placed in one of their bushes
  • Barrier: In my opinion better than Heal in mid, because the opponent normally has Ignite, which reduces the heal by 50%.
  • Clarity: After the latest change to Clarity it became more viable. Especially Xerath could need some extra Mana; so feel free to try it.
  • Ghost: You should definitely take one of the escape spells Ghost or Flash with you. While Flash can be used to "jump" over walls, ghost is great with the speed bonus of Locus of power.
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In this section I'll explain in detail what Xerath's abilities (and passive) does. I'll also point out some problems that may occur.
In the section "Tips and Tricks" however I'll explain how you can minimize these disadvantages.
Ascended Form Locus of PowerMage Chains

(You can view detailed information about the skills by moving your mouse over the images)

Ascended Form Ascended Form (passive): With runes and Masteries you go to lane with 16 + 3 armor. It's not much, but it will help you against autoattack harassment and minion hits. Later on - when you have about 500 AP - you will get 75 extra armor, which is huge.

Arcanopulse: This spell is probably your most important one. Its ratio isn't the best in game (only 0.6%), but without any CdR it'll have a 5sec. Cd and it does AoE-Damage in a Line.
With Locus of Power activated you will be able to harass, kill and steal Dragon or Baron.

The downside of the spell is its short channel time. You can't move and good players will often be able to dodge it. (In particular meele champions just walk around you)

The normal range of Arcanopulse.

The range of Arcanopulse with activated Locus of Power reaches from your tower to the middle of the lane.
The range is also displayed on the minimap!

Locus of Power Locus of Power: This is the skill that defines Xerath. While actived it greatly increases the range of your other abilities. But wait; there's more: It also gives up 40% magic penetration. THIS IS HUGE. Better than the current Void Staff! And when you deactivate it or after 8 seconds it'll give you 35% movement speed for 2 seconds. Nice.

But there are always disadvantages. While Locus of Power is toggled on you can't move. If you're new to Xerath this can be quite confusing, because it doesn't toggle off if you right click somewhere else. Also you're vulnerable to skill shots...
Another problem is the high initial cooldown (20sec. !!!). But at rank 5 it has without any CdR only 4sec.. Thats the reason why you want to have it maxed not too late in game.

Mage Chains Mage Chains: After hitting an enemy with this ability he gets a mark for 3 seconds. If you hit him then with another skill he gets stunned for 1.5 seconds. Probably the best thing (besides the utility it gives) is the fact that it's not a skill shot. The cooldown is not that high and you can normally combine it with Arcanopulse. Furthermore it has the best ratio of all abilites (0.8 compared to 0.6 of the others) and its base damage surpasses Arcanopulse already at rank 2.

But again there is something problematic. If you cast Arcanopulse immediately after Mage Chains, the latter may still be in mid air while Arcanopulse hits the target -> no stun. Another problem is the short range - compared to the other abilities.

Even with Locus of Power toggled on the range is not THAT big.

Arcane Barrage: Your ultimate. After using it once you can activate it 2 more times. It does AoE-damage in a circle and - again - can be dodged. Its base damage is ok and also its ratio (0.6). BUT if you hit 3 times, you'll deal insane damage: 375 / 600 / 825 + 1.8 * AP ... 1.8 is probably the best damage ratio of the whole game! You also have 12sec to reactivate it; so you don't have to spam it and after a quick kill you can use it on somebody else. Its Cd with Crest of the Ancient Golem is in particular not that high; so you can even use it during laning phase to harass or steal dragon.

The range is similar to Arcanopulse ... gigantic.
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Skill Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
You always want to skill your ultimate Arcane Barrage first. Arcanopulse is the skill you should max first. It's damage is not as high as Mage Chains, but it does AoE-damage and has higher range. You will be able to harass and erase complete minion weaves later on, which enables you to gank, go back or farm in jungle.
I wouldn't recommend maxing Mage Chains first. It may be an easy harassment tool against meele champions, but while it's on cooldown you lesser chance to escape an enemy gank.

Now it gets a bit more complicated.

I tend to skill Mage chains 3 times before maxing out Locus of power first.

Why am I doing this? Well, Mage chains is your only none-skillshot and there are games where your mid opponent tends to dodge every Arcanopulse you throw at him. In addition the damage is actually better than Arcanopulse's.

While you won't use Locus of power that often during the laning phase, you will use it quite often in mid and late game. The Cd difference between rank 1 and 5 is massive: 20sec to 4sec. AND ... you want the full 40% magic pen you can get by rank 5.


> > Locus of Power
Mage Chains
Whether you max. Locus of power or Mage Chains depends probably on your own preference and the opponent you are facing
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Start Items




Crystalline Flask, Faerie Charm, 2 x Health/Mana Potion
This start is a bit converse to Doran's Ring. Instead of increasing your base stats you get a lot of regeneration. With one Mana Potion and one Health Potion you can regenerate 450 health and 220 mana (+3 flat mana reg.). The main purpose of these items is sustain. You'll be able to stay in lane forever and maximize your farm.

Doran's Ring
In my opinion a quite a good start. It gives you all the stats you need early on: Some health (= sustain), a little bit AP and mana reg. flat + when you kill a unit. But be careful. You won't have any health reg. except your basic's 5(+0.55*lvl) per 5 seconds.

Boots + Pots
Since the movement speed change i wouldn't recommend this start. But if you face a heavy skill-shot champion (like Brand or Ahri) you might consider them.

Amp + Pot
Well ... this start does give you quite some damage (similar to Doran's Ring) and you can build into a Haunting Guise. You have a bit of sustain with your Health Potion, but lack mana regeneration.

Sapphire Crystal + Pots
You normally don't have any use for a Sapphire Crystal, because you neither buy a catalyst the protector nor a Tear of the Goddess.

(If you always want to start with Boots or Amplifying Tome you should consider Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration to compensate your lack of mana regeneration.)

Farm Items

sight ward
Chalice of Harmony + Ward(s)

When you go back for the first time (or die) you have to decide whether you want to buy Chalice of Harmony to spam Arcanopulse or skip it to buy your first damage item.
Chalice of Harmony is relatively cheap and gives you some magic resistance. But the most important thing is the seemingly endless mana pool you will get. You'll we be able to harass and farm constantly with Arcanopulse. Also try getting Boots when you go back for the first time.

If you have problems staying in lane you should buy up to two Doran's Rings and consider a Crystalline Flask for even more sustain (if you didn't start with it).

In "Tips and Tricks" I'll explain why you should buy least one sight ward when you go back!

Early Core Items

Sorcerer's shoes + haunting guise

These two items cost together about 2600. That's no bed of roses. First of all you want your tier 2 boots to move faster to/in lane and gank other lanes. Also Haunting Guise gives some AP and Health which will help you to stay on top in lane. But now about the best part: You will deal true damage. That's right (if your opponent doesn't stack magic res.)! You won't have that much AP. However the damage you'll deal with it will surprise EVERY enemy.

(Especially low magic res. is surprisingly effctive - see here why; so negating it will make quite a difference)

But when should I start with which part? Well it quite depends: Having a finished item is better than just buying its components. But if he deals - for example - a lot of damage with his skill shots (like Brand, Kennen, etc.) you could start with Sorcerer's Shoes and Ruby Crystal.

Core Items

Rylai's Crystal Scepter + Liandry's Torment + Rabadon's Deathcap

After finishing my early items I normally buy Rylai's Crystal Scepter first. Whether you should start with Amplifying Tome/ Blasting Wand or Giant's Belt depends on the situation (do you want more damage or can the enemey burst you down?) and your money when you go back. The best part about Rylai's Crystal Scepter is surely its passive. You'll be able to slow enemies with your AoE-abilites and activating the mark of Mage chains will be much easier.

Then I tend to build my Haunting Guise into a Liandry's Anguish, because it only costs 1415 and gives 45 more AP and a great passive for every dps-mage. Your poke power will become insanely stronger.

If you have followed my build till now, you'll deal quite some damage. But with Rabadon's Deathcap it will explode: 120 + 0.25*(120+70+80) = 188 extra AP (without any runes and masteries)

Item summary until now

  • You'll be able to slow multiple targets and stun easily.
  • You'll have about 400 AP
  • You'll deal mostly true damage
  • You'll deal even more damage with a dot

Items Overview

I normal create my item set out of the following:

Possible Boots:

Magic Penetration: especially good for Xerath

Magic Resistance + Crowd Control Reduction: You could consider them if you think that the enemy will be in range to cc you and/or deal massive magic damage to you. (It's a really good item against Veigar, because you can dodge a lot of damage after he lands Event Horizon)


DAMAGE + More Damage: Well you can't say much about this item. It's a must-have on most casters. Xerath doesn't differentiate. Buy it for a great increase in your damage output.

% Magic Penetration. + Damage: With Locus of power at rank 5 and Arcane Knowledge you already have about 45% magic penetration. But with Void Staff you will get 64%. That's right! Buy this item if you not only want to kill their carries, but everbody who is in sight.

Health + Damage + Slow: A MUST-HAVE! It does not only provide health and AP, but gives you great utility. You'll be able to slow with all your skillshots and land your stun easily after using Mage CHains.

Health + Magic pen. + Damage + Damage over Time: Haunting Guise is a great early item. And you can make it even better by adding more AP and a DoT for incredible poke-power.

Mana Regeneration + Cooldown Reduction+ Damage + Anti-Lifesteal: It gives you a bit more AP and CdR than Athene's Unholy Grail, but less mana reg. and no magic resistance. You probably want to buy it against high health-regeneration champions (such as Dr. Mundo, Swain, etc.) and AD-carries, who stack lifesteal (e.g. Bloodthirster).

Mana Regeneration + Cooldown Reduction + Magic res. + Damage + Endless Mana: A GREAT item for Xerath. You probably lack all of its stats (you can never have enough damage ...) so feel free to buy it in most games.

Armor + Damage + Invincibility: 100 AP is quite huge, but you normally don't need the extra 50 armor because of your passive ascended form (exept the enemy team is full of AD-champions who all want to kill you ;)). But the stasis of 2.5 seconds can be quite useful. You won't be able to cast during this time, but you may be able to dodge a damage peak or cc of the enemy.

Health + Mana + Magic Resistance + Spellblock: A little bit mana; a little bit health ... but you probably want to buy it if you want magic res. and block one devestating enemy spell (such as Unstoppable Force)


You may ask what enchantment you should buy for Xerath... And again it depends. In my opinion there is no best enchantment for this champion. You probably want to buy it after you have your full item set and don't know what to do with your money (don't forget to buy Elixir of Brilliance/ Elixir of Fortitude and Oracle's Elixir). Just read them through and decide for yourself which you would like the most in the situtation.
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As a mid AP-carry you want
  • as much farm as possible
  • help/gank other lanes
  • getting a few kills
  • help at/steal dragon

Laning phase

Try to freeze the minion wave in the middle of the lane.
  • If your enemy just does last-hits with his normal attacks, do the same. Try to use Arcanopulse only to harass your opponent without hitting the enemy minions.
  • If he autoattacks or uses his abilities, do the same. This can be a bit harder because Xerath uses quite a lot of mana. So do the best with it. You can even try to lasthit and simultaneously harass your opponent with Arcanopulse.
You can tank some minions; so they don't die to your tower, but be careful. Especially early game they can do quite a lot of damage and the enemy may harass you.

Don't panic while being ganked. Start running and use your mage chains- Arcanopulse-Combo to stun the largest threat, when he comes too close. If he is way to close immediately Flash afterwards to have a "Get Out of Jail Free"-Card. Should you have enough time to toggle locus of power on before the stun-combo, do it! Because of the movement speed bonus when you toggle it of you will be faster altogether.

While you don't have your Flash up (and no sight ward) play carefully. You'll still be able to farm and harass with Locus of power & Arcanopulse if the minion wave is quite far away.

If you have Chalice of Harmony or blue buff you can start clearing out minion waves with Arcanopulse. In the beginning you probably will need two spells to kill the caster minions, but with right positioning you can hit all minions at once. After you have cleared the wave you have different posibilites:
  • Recall: This is quite obvious, but still noteworthy. You can refill Crystalline Flask (if you have one) and buy new sight wards or items
  • Go ganking: Xerath might not be fast, but because of his range he is able to deal damage from positions nobody reckons.
  • Farm even more: You can take your wraiths (if your jungler doesn't need them). Or you place a ward into the bush next to the enemies wraiths to safely steal them. OR you place a ward so you can see the big wraith, wait till the enemy jungler comes and steal them while he does the damage.

Nobody questions that Xerath wins a range battle. But what about close combat against Akali or Katarina? After you hit level 6 you can pick up fights against them! When they get close start with mage chains and use Arcane Barrage once for a quick stun (if you have Ignite, use it now). Then follow up with Arcanopulse and Arcane Barrage twice. Either they are dead or have to recall and you have free farm.
(Be a bit more careful if you don't have ignite and/or built Chalice of Harmony because you lack a bit of damage)

Although I get hit by Orianna's ultimate, I can still nuke her with a well excecuted combo

Mid Game

This phase is probably the most exhausting. You have to be really careful of big ganks and if suddenly the whole enemy shows up, use Locus of power behind your tower to hopefully kill the minions before the enemies can get near you. Poke them and hope that your team shows up soon. Be REALLY careful about fights in the jungle. Xerath is not mobile and he needs vision and a safe position.

Late Game

Again i highly recommend that you only fight for dragon/baron or towers. If you want to be most effective, you need a grouped up enemy team. Also you should prepare teamfights. What I mean with that is POKE! Probably one of the best situation for Xerath is a stand of in mid lane. You are safe behind your (hopefully tanky) teammates and have vision through your minions while the enemies can't see you! While their health drops they have only two decisions. Go back and give you a free tower or initate a fight which your team should win, because the enemies already lost so much health.


There is not much to talk about. Activate Locus of Power, use Arcane Barrage and Arcanopulse on their carries and hit simultaneously as much enemies as possible. When somebody comes in range of Mage chains use it to slow him (with rylai's crystal zepter) and stun him with your next Arcanopulse. Just spam Arcanopulse and you should win the teamfight. If you estimate the teamfight as lost or the enemies are retreating toggle Locus of Power off and start running.
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Tips and Tricks

How to hit with Arcanopulse

  • Stun your opponent first: In close-combat hitting Arcane Barrage is way easier than Arcanopulse !
  • Watch your opponent's moving direction: Is he retreating to his tower or a bush? Is he chasing somebody?
  • Restricted movement: Is your opponent next to a wall? Or even between the tower and the nearby wall?
  • Low health minions: Watch your own minions and use Arcanopulse when the opponent is busy killing them
  • Use your range: With Locus of Power toggled on you hit your enemy even if he can't see you!

How to use Locus of Power

If you've ever played Starcraft 2, think of Xerath as a siege tank. If not just be really careful where and when you use it.

I generally don't use it that often in lane except I'm winning or losing it. That's because during an even lane both concentrate on lasthitting and I just throw some Arcanopulse at the enemy to go back once in a while. On the contrary if you win a lane the enemy normally stays at his tower, but you can try still hitting him by using Locus of Power. While losing a lane (and waiting for a hopefully good gank) you can still farm and harass your opponent.

If you root yourself in front of nearby enemies, you are probably dead in a blink of an eye. A good rule of thumb is your Arcanopulse range without Locus of power. You can normally root yourself safely if enemies are out of range. Is somebody running towards you ? Use mage chains- Arcanopulse, toggle locus of power off and start running (except you can kill him with Arcanopulse). Because of the extra movement speed and the stun you should be safe and the enemy lost quite some health.

Smart Casting

If you already use it you can skip this section.

I didn't use smart cast for a long time. Mainly because i didn't/don't know the range of all spells. But you can display them easily! I highly recommend that you use smart cast for Xerath (every champion), because you will be able to cast combos switftly. If you do change to smart cast after reading this, practice it a bit in custom games. The change is a pretty big adjustment!

Make sure you set "Smartcast Range Indicators" is enabled.


You probably know where to ward, but here is a map where the best spots are.

Shows the most important ward spots (1 = highest piority); if you want to learn more about warding click on image (by Panglot).

What you probably don't know is the following:With a perfect Sight ward you can not only see the movement of the jungler, but also have full vision on the enemy wraiths. You can easily steal them from the bush.

(You will place a ward into a bush if your mouse cursor is green)


Xerath is not a mobile champion. But because of his extreme range he can gank from positions normal people wouldn't expect. Therefore you can gank without running over the typical positions of sight wards. The downside is that you normally won't be able to cast Mage chains on your opponent for a stun.

Let your teammate initiate! If the enemy flees your ally probably already won the lane. Otherwise you can hit Arcanopulse and Arcane Barrage easily while the opponent is busy fighting.

This is a map with spots you can gank with Locus of power without running over the typical placed sight wards.

This video shows the power of Xerath ganks if the enemy is overextending.
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Why did Xerath become viable?

For a long time Xerath was a good pick as a mid AP-Carry. But there were better picks - such as Orianna, Karthus, Anivia, etc...
However after the pre season patch a lot has changed. One consequence was a great buff for Xerath. But why is that so ?

1. Changes to Magic Pen. and Res.
Let's start with some Math.
Magic Pen. Magic Res. Before Patch After Patch
8 Flat + 8% 30mr 20mr 20mr
23 Flat + 24% 30mr 5mr 0mr
38 Flat + 24% 50mr 9mr 0mr
38 Flat + 64% 100mr 22mr 0mr
38 Flat + 64% 200mr 60mr 38mr
But what does this all mean? Well it means that Xerath deals most of time true damage with the proposed core items and Void Staff (at least to normal carries). I'll explain later why and how. (Also magic res. stacking did become more difficult because of cost increase and item changes; while Sorcerer's Shoes became a great item for Xerath)
2. AD-Shifting
Due to the current meta you see mostly AP-carries at middle lane. But the patch buffed AD-casters (e.g. Talon) which are a good counter against most AP-carries and bruisers in general. Because of that Xerath passive Ascended Form becomes more and more useful. In addition this build gives you early on a lot of Health which leads to great sustain overall.
3. Item Changes
Haunting Guise did become viable because now you can build it into Liandry's Anguish, which is a great item for every dps-caster; especially Xerath because of the additional magic pen.
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I hope you enjoyed my guide and have as much fun playing Xerath as I have.
If you have some improvments or just liked the guide feel free to leave a comment.

Special thanks to my friends who helped a lot creating this.
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I'll expand this section once i got more questions.

Why shouldn't I rush Rabadon's Deathcap with Xerath?
It's true that his ratios aren't that bad. Let's assume you are level 11 and have about 50 AP through runes and masteries when you can buy Rabadon's Deathcap.
Costs 3200 1485 + 2900 = 4385
AP 120+0.25*170 + 50 = 212 25+80 + 50 = 155
Damage Arcanopulse 235 + 0.6*212 = 362
Mage Chains 170 + 0.8*212 = 340
Arcane Barrage 3*(180 + 0.6*212) = 921
= 1620
Arcanopulse 235 + 0.6*155 = 328
Mage Chains 170 + 0.8*155 = 294
Arcane Barrage 3*(180 + 0.6*155) = 819
= 1440
Effective Damage (enemy mr: 50) Effective mr: 50*0.92-(8+15) = 23 (with locus of power: 16)
Damage multiplier: 100/(100+23) = 0.81 (0,86)
=> 1620*0,81 = 1310 (1393)
Effective mr: 50*0.92-(8+15+15) = 8 (with locus of power: 1)
Damage multiplier: 100/(100+8) = 0,93 (0,99)
=> 1440*0,93 = 1340 (1425)
Health 0 200 + 500 = 700
Utility - Slow

Let's see.
Rabadon's Deathcap does give you more AP and is cheaper (about 1200 difference).
The other two items give you effectively more damage (because of the magic pen.), 700 health (that's huge) and a slow on spell damage that will help you greatly during your fights. Furthermore you can build Haunting Guise and Rylai's Crystal Scepter in small steps.

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide