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Which DNA test to choose in 2021?

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Choosing the right DNA test

Note: If you are new to ancestry DNA tests and would like to learn the basics of how DNA can be used to retrace one's ancestry, please check our Ancestry DNA test FAQ first.

Determining what is the best DNA test for you depends on what you are looking for and how much money you are willing to spend on it. It may also depends on whether you are a man or a woman, as females lack a Y chromosome and do not get the benefit of some tests' advanced Y-chromosomal DNA sequencing. Here is how to find your way more easily.


What can I expected from a DNA test?

People order DNA tests for different reasons. Some don't really know what to expect. Here is a summary of what you can hope for.

  1. Finding about my ancient ancestry. This is what most people who already know their recent ancestry really care about. How much of my DNA did I inherit from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Celts, Scandinavians, Slavs...? This is fascinating, but it was a pipe dream until the testing of ancient DNA that really started a few years ago and made it possible to compare one's genome to those of thousands of individuals who lived centuries or millennia ago. This is the main interest of people visiting Eupedia and this is why we have developed a free Ancient Ethnicities Analyzer for people who have tested their genome. At present no DNA testing company provides a similar service. One company, MyTrueAncestry, is trying to cash in on the advances in archeogenetics, but the results they provide (typically for a fee) are both unreliable and misleading. Here at Eupedia we believe that such information should be free and that people ought to know the current limitations in the field.

  2. Tracing back the genealogy, history and prehistory of my paternal lineage through my Y chromosome. If you are just interested in the ancient roots of your fatherline, then the Y-DNA results from companies such as Living DNA or tellmeGen may be enough. In other cases, you will need an advanced Y-DNA tests.

  3. Learning about my health (disease risks, carrier status for rare diseases, drug responses based on my genetic profile). Most companies who provide medical advice sell more expensive whole genome test (from $399). The only two 'budget' options are 23andMe and tellmeGen. If you choose or already tested with another company, you can still upload your raw data on the site of a personalised health report service.

  4. Improve my wellbeing by getting personalised recommendations on my diet, vitamin requirements, fitness, sleep, lifestyle... Same as above.

  5. Finding about my recent ancestry. This may be of interest for people who were adopted or don't know the ethnic origins of their parents or grandparents. However you may only get a very rough estimate such as a whole country or group of countries (e.g. Scandinavia, Balkans). If your (grand-)parents do not have the same origins or come from countries where people are ethnically mixed like anywhere on the American continent, it will be even harder to determine your "recent origins". In that case recent may be 500 years ago. If you are just curious about which modern ethnic group your genetic make-up most resembles, then upload your autosomal raw data (from any company) to Admixture Studio.

  6. Finding lost relatives. Anyone who was adopted or conceived through an anonymous sperm donor and have no way of knowing who one or both of their biological parents may have an urge to find them. They may also have unknown siblings. Most testing companies offer such a relative finder service, but even if the one you choose doesn't, many other companies (and sites like GEDmatch) will let you upload your raw data for free to try and find relatives. It's also in their interest as this kind of service depends on the number of people in the database. The more people, the higher the chances of finidng a match. Of course that's only if the person you are looking for 1) is still alive, 2) wants to be found, 3) knows about such services, and 4) has enough money to actually order a test. That's a lot of if's. Even if none of these conditions are met, it is still possible for a man looking for his biological father to determine at least his surname, as Y-chromosomal DNA passes from father to son and is linked to patronyms. This, however, would required an advanced Y-DNA tests.


So which test is the best for me?

  1. I want the best test available (for any category). Money is not an issue.
    => Easy then, just order a whole genome test. The best deal at present is Sequencing.com at $399 (+ shipping), but you will have to pay extra to get your health and trait reports (except if you use free services like CodeGen).

  2. I want to know my ancient ancestry, health risks and traits, but I don't want to spend too much money.
    => The best deal is tellmeGen at 139$/139€ (free shipping).

  3. I don't care about my health reports, I just want to know about my ancient ancestry.
    => If you intend to use free tools like Admixture Studio (to determine autosomal admixtures) and/or Eupedia's Ancient Ethnicities Analyzer, then any test is equivalent. If you are a man and also want to know your Y-DNA haplogroup, Living DNA is the cheapest combination of Y-DNA and autosomal DNA at 79$/79€/79£ (+ shipping).

  4. I want the cheapest test to learn about my health, but don't really care about my ancestry.
    => The very cheapest test with enough health SNPs to be useful are either Living DNA (20$/€ cheaper but a bit less medical SNPs) or AncestryDNA. They don't provide health reports (only trait reports for an extra $20), but you can get free reports elsewhere.

  5. I am looking for lost relatives.
    => Any test is equivalent. Just upload your raw data to various relative finder services to maximize your chances. Sites that allow free DNA upload to their relative finder include MyHeritage DNA, Family Tree DNA, Living DNA, Sequencing.com, and GEDmatch.


Technical summary of each DNA test (as of April 2021)

Company Autosomal SNP's Y-DNA SNP's X-DNA SNP's mtDNA
base pairs
Health SNPs
(ClinVar)
23andMe (v5) 631,955 3,500 16,135 4,156 ~2,000
Ancestry DNA 682,549 885 none none ~25,000
Atlas Biomed 692,164 6,494 29,327 1,260 6,411
FTDNA Family Finder 690,000 none ~18,000 none ~2,000
FTDNA Comprehensive Genome 690,000 none (111 Y-STR) ~18,000 16,569 ~2,000
Living DNA 668,000 22,500 13,942 4,700 ~9,500
MyHeritageDNA 702,000 ~500 ~18,000 none no
tellmeGen 654,000 27,000 4,138 1,138 46,000
Whole Genome Sequencing
(any company)
5,000,000
(all known SNPs at present)
55,000 62,000 16,569 ~70,000

If you intend to use a third-party analysis, the most important factor is the number of SNPs on the chip that are listed in ClinVar - i.e. the alleles with known medical relevance. TellmeGen tests for 46,000 SNPs listed as ClinVar. According to SNPedia, AncestryDNA has ~25,000 SNPs listed in ClinVar, followed by Living DNA with ~9,500, while 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA have less than 2,000. MyHeritage doesn't seem to have any.

There are a few DNA testing companies that we do not recommend as they are not suited to tracing back ancient ancestry and won't test them in detail:

  • Genebase: provides very expensive Y-STR tests as well as autosomal SNP tests targetting single genes that they label with catchy names such as 'Warrior gene', 'Promiscuity gene' or 'Depression & Anxiety gene'. This is deceptive marketing as such traits are based on many genes, which incidentally are also included in most of the autosomal tests below.
  • iGenea: sells Y-DNA, mtDNA and autosomal DNA tests in packs at greatly inflated prices (1499$/1299€/1149£ for a test similar to Living DNA or 23andMe). Their website completely lacks transparency about what's included in the tests (e.g. number of SNPs or STR tested) and they claim that customers can find if they are related to historical people like Marie-Antoinette just by comparing their mtDNA, which is very deceitful as mtDNA generally points to a common ancestor who lived thousands of years ago, not a few centuries ago.

Note that in 2017 we reviewed the Chromo 2.0 test by BritainsDNA. However BritainsDNA ceased its operations in July 2017 and its test is no longer available. Likewise, as of 31 May 2019 the Genographic Project has stopped selling new DNA kits.


Prices, shipping costs & availabilities

Company Price (USA/EU/UK) Shipping fees Countries available
23andMe (ancestry + health) 199$/169€/149£ 9.95$ (US), 9.99£ (UK), 9.99€ (some EU) 8 countries
23andMe (ancestry only) 99$/99€/79£ 9.95$ (US), 9.99£ (UK), 9.99€ (some EU), 25-72$ (other) over 50 countries
Ancestry DNA 99$/99€/79£ 20$/€/£ 35 countries
Atlas Biomed 169€/159£/C$249 free 13 countries
DanteLabs (x30 WGS) 599€ free worldwide
FTDNA Family Finder 79$ 9.95$ worldwide
FTDNA Comprehensive Genome 469$ 9.95$ worldwide
Living DNA (ancestry + wellbeing) 149$/149€/149£ 9.95$/12.95€/9.95£ worldwide
Living DNA (ancestry only) 79$/79€/79£ 9.95$/12.95€/9.95£ worldwide
MyHeritageDNA 79$/79€/79£ 12$/€/£ worldwide
Nebula Genomics (x30 WGS) 999$ free worldwide
Sequencing.com: Ultimate DNA Test 69$ 10$ (US & UK), 15$ (EU), 20$ (other) worldwide
Sequencing.com: x30 WGS 399$ 10$ (US & UK), 15$ (EU), 20$ (other) worldwide
tellmeGen 139$/139€ free worldwide

Note that 23andMe charges exorbitant shipping fees for countries outside North America and northern Europe (between $25 and $72, depending on the country, using standard delivery), which considerably increases the final price.


Comparison of health reports

Choosing the best health and wellness report depends on what you are looking for. The following tables should help you compare more easily what each company offers.

Hereditary conditions are usually rare but generally debilitating and incurable diseases. Even if someone is not affected, they could be carrier of an allele if the disease is recessive (meaning that the deleterious mutation must be inherited from both parents for a person to have the disease, syndrome or condition). Couples who wish to have children can check if they do not carry the same mutations for such a condition. If they do, they ought to seek professional counselling and probably procreate through medically assisted reproduction. Even if someone is affected by an inherited condition, advances in gene therapy should make it possible to cure all these monogenic diseases soon in the future.

Disease risks are calculated for more common and usually preventable and/or curable diseases that are rooted in several genes. The best health report compute a risk score based on many SNPs, each carrying a unique risk value. Companies like 23andMe, Nebula Genomics and tellmeGen provide clear details on how this risk is calculated.

Drug responses, also known as pharmacogenetics, estimates the optimal dosage of medications based on one's genome for maximum efficiency with minimal adverse effects.

The nutrition category includes the way the body potentially reacts to foods (allergies, metabolism, obesity risk), caffeine, alcohol and so on. Some SNPs can help determine if an individual might need to supplement some vitamins or minerals, although these estimates are still rather experimental.

Fitness includes reports on athletic abilities, muscle regeneration, risks of injuries, recovery from sports, etc. Like for nutrition, it is not as accurate as for hereditary conditions (extremely reliable), drug responses (generally quite reliable) or disease risks (reliable if all risk factors calculated properly).

Other traits include a bit of everything, such as appearance, behaviour, personality, tastes, sleep, blood types... Some of these are very reliable (blood types, eye colour), but others are much less so because they depend on non-genetic factors as well (height, personality, tastes).

DNA testing companies that do not allow raw data uploads from other companies

To obtain these reports, you will need to order the company's DNA test.

Company Price of test & report Hereditary conditions Disease risks Drug responses Nutrition Fitness Other traits
23andMe 199$/169€/149£ yes (53) yes (16) yes (3) yes (7) yes (1) yes (39)
Atlas Biomed 169€/159£ yes (317) yes (20) no yes (23) yes (9) yes (14)
Dante Labs 599€ yes (74) no yes (124) yes (23) yes (114) no

DNA testing companies that also allow raw data uploads from other companies

Company Price of report Hereditary conditions Disease risks Drug responses Nutrition Fitness Other traits
24Genetics 99€ (pack) no no no yes (19) yes (30) yes (12)
Nebula Genomics free/$15 ? yes (80+) ? yes (18+) yes (13+) yes (120+)
Living DNA 29$/19€ no no no yes (8) yes (6) no
Sequencing.com both free and paid reports yes yes yes yes yes yes
  • Carrier Status
  • 29$ yes (21) no no no no no
  • Comprehensive Wellness
    DNA Report
  • 189$ no no no yes (49) yes (27) yes (60+)
  • Disease Risk
    Genetic Report
  • 59$ no yes (94) no no no no
  • Healthcare Pro
  • 79$ yes (5) yes (9) yes (11) no no no
  • Inherited Traits
    Genetic Analysis
  • 129$ no no yes (20) yes (19) no yes (41)
  • Rare Disease
    Screen DNA Report
  • 19$ yes (1218) no no no no no
  • TBG Total Wellness
  • 119$ no no no yes (44) yes (24) no
  • Wellness &
    Longevity Report
  • 69$ yes (18) yes (30) yes (14) yes (few) yes (few) yes (few)
    tellmeGen free yes (95) yes (100) yes (150) yes (12) yes (8) yes (30)
    Vitagene 30$ no no no yes (30) yes (7) no

    Websites that only analyse raw data uploads

    Website Price of report Hereditary conditions Disease risks Drug responses Nutrition Fitness Other traits
    CodeGen free yes yes yes yes yes yes
    Impute.me free yes (51) yes (177) yes (27) yes (6) yes (7) yes
    Promethease 12$ yes yes yes yes yes yes
    FoundMyFitness 25$ ? yes ? yes yes ?
    Xcode Life 99$/79€ for all reports yes (408) yes (40+) no yes (35+) yes (15+) yes (40+)

    24Genetics sells nutrition, sports, skin care and personality reports at an inflated price (69€ per report or 99€ for a pack including ancestry, nutrition, sports and skin care). What's more the skin care report includes the vitamin and omega-3 levels already reported in the nutrition. All of these are available for free elsewhere and are of dubious reliability anyway.
    Raw data compatibility: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and MyHeritage DNA.

    Nebula Genomics is specialised in whole genome sequencing. Their free report covers 40 health conditions and 29 traits related to fitness, nutrition, perception, behaviour and appearance. The Premium membership ($14.99 per month, or $8.33 per month if billed yearly) grants access to over 260 health reports and promises multiple new reports every week based on the latest scientific discoveries.
    Raw data compatibility: 23andMe and AncestryDNA.

    Living DNA's reports only include a few nutrition and fitness traits and are not free. Frankly it's not worth the price. Even stranger, it is much cheaper to upgrade an ancestry kit (29$/19€) from Living DNA or another company than to order an 'ancestry + wellbeing kit' from the start. The difference of price between the 'ancestry only kit' (79$/€) and the 'ancestry + wellbeing kit' (149 $/€) is 70$/€!
    Raw data compatibility: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and MyHeritage DNA.

    Sequencing.com is a platform hosting over 100 apps to analyse one's health and ancestry developed by a variety of companies (App MD, Athletigen Technologies, Complete Genome Science, DNAVisit, Genealogy Science, GeneInformed, GeneX, LifeNome, SelfDecode, Silverberry Genomix, Toolbox Genomics) as well as their own. They also sell their own DNA tests (including whole genome sequencing, see below).
    Raw data compatibility: most DNA testing companies.

    TellmeGen freely analyses your raw data and provides a detailed report by disease and trait, computing the overall risk for each based on all SNPs available. They also provide an ancestry report.
    Raw data compatibility: 23andMe, AncestryDNA and MyHeritage DNA.

    CodeGen and Promethease are basically the same report and uses data from SNPedia. Instead of checking for each SNP manually, just upload your raw data and let the script find the risk alleles for you. Promethease used to be free, but it was purchased by MyHeritage DNA, which now charges 12$ for each analysis. However you can still get the free version on Sequencing.com or just use CodeGen. Results for each SNP are reported individually and listed by risk level for that SNP. As many diseases are multigenic and should be assessed on numerous SNPs, this method is not very user-friendly. FoundMyFitness is also based on SNPedia, but the report explains more clearly the implications of each risk allele found.
    Raw data compatibility: most DNA testing companies.

    Impute.me is a free service provided by independent genticists based in Denmark. It is more technical and is not very user-friendly, but the wealth of data provided is impressive. They scan your raw data for hundreds of complex and rare diseases, drug responses, traits, and even provide estimates for height, hair colour, and political compass. A fun extra is the Kandinskyfy your Genome tool, which creates a unique piece of art in the style of Wassily Kandinsky using your genomic data.
    Raw data compatibility: most DNA testing companies.

    Xcode Life has paid reports for diseases and traits. They are especially good for rare diseases/carrier status as well as nutrition and personality reports. Reports come in downloable PDF files. Unfortunately they do not list of SNPs tested for each condition (only the genes), so their report lacks transparency and cannot be easily verified.
    Raw data compatibility: most DNA testing companies.


    Comparison of autosomal ancestry reports

    Autosomal ancestry reports are useful for people of mixed ancestry, especially from very different ethnic groups. Most tests will have difficulties differentiating ancestry from neighbouring countries within Europe. These reports are ideal for people with mixed European, African, Asian and/or Native American ancestry who wish to know ho much DNA they inherited from each continent and region.

    If you wish to know your percentage of similarity with hundreds of modern populations you'll need to download Admixture Studio (free and compatible with any of the tests below) to analyse your raw data. To compare your genome to hundreds of ancient European and Middle Eastern populations, we have developed an Ancient Ethnicities Analyzer that works with the K12b coordinates from Admixture Studio.

    Company Reference individuals Reference populations (including ... European) Neanderthal ancestry Best for...
    23andMe 14,000 45 10 yes
    AncestryDNA 44,703 70 21 no Native American & Pacific Islands ancestry
    Atlas Biomed ? 153 39 no South Asian, Siberian or North Caucasian ancestry
    FTDNA MyOrigins v.3 ? 90 16 no Middle Eastern & Southeast Asian ancestry
    Living DNA 14,000 150 42 no African and European (especially British) ancestry
    MyHeritage DNA 5,000 42 14 no
    tellmeGen ? 74 17 yes Chinese and Pakistani ancestry

    Each company will compare the percentage of similarity between your genome (autosomal DNA) and those of individuals from other countries, although their accuracy still needs to be improved. All tests have a similar number of autosomal SNP's (for the person tested), but vary widely in the number of individuals used in the reference populations.

    23andMe's Ancestry Composition comprises 45 global populations, including . People of Native American, Central Asian, North Asian, East Asian, South Asian, or Oceanian ancestry are very broadly classified and probably won't find their report very informative. The Ancestry Timeline is unreliable as it greatly underestimates the number of generations elapsed. Since April 2018, 23andMe advertises its test as covering 150+ regions. This is merely a marketing trick in response to AncestryDNA equally false claim that they report ancestral admixtures for 150 countries. In fact, nothing changed. They are still covering the same 23 regions as before. Like AncestryDNA they just added a list of countries within each region and dots (from 0 to 5) showing the approximate confidence level that someone has ancestors from a specific country.
    Breakdown of population tested: Europe (10), Middle East (7), Africa (9), South Asia (5), East Asia (4), Southeast Asia (3), 2 North Asia (2). Other broad regions: Central Asia, Melanesia, Americas.

    AncestryDNA claims to report 1400+ regions in its ethnicy estimate. However, according to their own website, there are only 70 populations in their reference population dataset, and customers only get percentage estimates for those 70 populations. This means that, even though it may appear at first sight that AncestryDNA has the largest number of regions for ancestry/ethnicity in its report, the actual quantifiable number is 70 - among which 21 European regions. Ancestry.com has perhaps the most detailed report for people of Native American (11 populations) and Pacific Island (7 populations) heritage. It is weakeast for the Middle East, Central Asia and North Asia.
    Breakdown of population tested: Europe (21), Middle East (3), Africa (11), South Asia (10), East Asia (6), Southeast Asia (7), Americas (11), Oceania (7). Other broad regions: Central Asia, North Asia.

    Atlas Biomed tests 153 populations and is particularly strong for minority ethnic groups from Siberia, the North Caucasus, South Asia and China. Apart from that, they also fare quite well for people of European, African, and Southeast Asian descent.
    Breakdown of population tested: Europe (28), Caucasus (11), Middle East (7), Central Asia (8), South Asia (27), Southeast Asia (11), East Asia (15), North Asia (21), Americas (9), Africa (12), Oceania (4).

    FTDNA My Origins has improved a lot from version 2 (24 populations) to version 3, which now uses 90 populations. However they still display very odd results for some Europeans, with reported ancestry that does not match at all known ancestry or results from other testing companies. MyOrigins is especially good for people of Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and Africa ancestry. FTDNA has added a new report in 2016 named ancientOrigins, which aims at determing the percentage of Mesolithic European, Near Eastern farmers and Metal-age invaders. However the results do not match at all those obtained from other calculators based on actual ancient samples from academic research. This report is so misleading that we recommend that you ignore it altogether.
    Breakdown of population tested: Europe (16), Middle East (13), North Africa (2), Sub-Saharan Africa (17), South Asia (7), Southeast Asia (12), East Asia (3), North Asia (8), Americas (9), Oceania (3).

    Living DNA has the most detailed autosomal ancestry report in terms of reference populations. It shows the percentage of similarity with populations from 150 regions in the world, including 20 subregions within the United Kingdom for people of British ancestry. Regions are designed to match ethnic groups (e.g. North vs South Italians, North vs South Slavs, Basques, Sardinians, Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, etc.). It is the best test for people of European and African descent, but is weak for Siberia, East Asia and Southeast Asia.
    Breakdown of population tested: Europe (22 + 20 in UK), Middle East (7), North Africa (10), Sub-Saharan Africa (62), Central Asia (4), South Asia (7), East Asia (6), Americas (4), Oceania (2). Other broader regions: Southeast Asia and Siberia.

    MyHeritage DNA compares your DNA with that of 5,000 participants from 42 population clusters in its report. That's the smallest number of populations among the seven companies reviewed here. Their website said that they "are planning on adding more and more ethnicities to our database in the near future" for several years now, but nothing has changed. The company's (only) strength is that they support 42 languages, while other companies have only English (except tellmeGen), but that's hardly a selling point. Like AncestryDNA, they do not offer Y-DNA or mtDNA tests though, which is disappointing for anybody interested in ancient ancestry.
    Breakdown of population tested: Europe (13), Middle East (3), North Africa (2), Sub-Saharan Africa (8), Southeast Asia (2), East Asia (2), Americas (4), Oceania (3). Other broad regions: Central Asia, Nepali, South Asia, West Asia.

    TellmeGen is more specialised in reports for health and traits. Their ancestry test covers 74 ethnic groups, including 17 in Europe. They are the only company that include Austrian, Slovenian and Croatian ancestry. However they are weak for Britain and Ireland. British people may end up with little or even no British ancestry in their results. It appears that they do not use a lot of reference individuals as results are often quite approximate.
    Breakdown of population tested: Europe (17), Caucasus (3), Middle East (6), North Africa (3), Sub-Saharan Africa (10), Central Asia (2), South Asia (12), Southeast Asia (2), East Asia (11), Americas (6). Other ethnic groups: Yakuts, Papuans.

    How accurate are ethnicity estimates?

    The number of populations available in each ethnicity report is not the only thing that matters. What's important is whether these regions accurately match one's ancestry. That depends a lot on the number of samples used as reference populations. AncestryDNA uses 44,000 individuals as reference, compared to approximately 14,000 samples for 23andMe or Living DNA, and only 5,000 for MyHeritage.

    Living DNA is the only company to provide regional differentiation within a country (the UK), and it is based on relatively good data from Oxford University's People of the British Isles (PoBI) project. However it only applies to people with British ancestry. Even with 80 worldwide reference populations, the accuracy of predictions is only reliable at the broader continental or subcontinental level (e.g. Northwest vs Northeast European, East Asian vs Siberian), but remains shaky at the national level. It is often far more interesting to compare autosomal admixtures with calculators like Dodecad or Eurogenes, which are provided for free at GEDMatch (more info).


    Y-DNA and mtDNA

    Living DNA and tellmeGen offer the best deal for Y-chromosomal DNA (Y-DNA) as they have the most SNPs and therefore a higher degree of accuracy.

    Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is less useful for ancestry, so it's really just a bonus to have it. Living DNA's first chip had 4,700 mtDNA SNPs covering almost all the mitochondrial mutations identified to date. It could therefore be regarded as equivalent to the full mtDNA sequence sold by FTDNA (unless you are willing to pay extra to know about potential private mutations that are of no interest at all for tracing back ancestry). Oddly, it seems that they have cut back on the number of mtDNA SNPs tested on the new chip (since 2019), so that many subclades of haplogroup H aren't defined any more. TellmeGen has fewer mtDNA SNPs, but they seem to have selected them wisely as they usually can pinpoint deep clades, at least for customers of European descent.

    Note that the distribution map and short summary for each haplogroup provided by testing companies are very basic (and sometimes inaccurate) compared to those you will find on this site.


    Advanced Y-DNA tests

    Y-chromosomal DNA is an amazing tool for tracing back ancestry with unmatched precisions (theoretically up to one generation apart) on a scale going back tens of thousands of years. It is in fact the only way to recreate the genealogy of humanity, even if only through fatherlines. That is why it is so popular with genetic genealogists, who can determine whether two people sharing the same surname really descend from a common paternal ancestor, and how many generations ago. Historical geneticists use it to trace large-scale migrations of populations, especially in prehistoric times. Genetically similar tribes from a common ethnic group (e.g. Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Greek) may be hard or impossible to distinguish using autosomal DNA, but the Y-chromosomal lines don't recombine at each generation, making it possible to follow a family's migration through the ages.

    If you have already tested your Y-DNA with one of the above companies and just wish to know your deep clade with more precision, a relatively cheap way to go is to order a custom deep clade test. The best deal in that field can be found at the Berlin-based Yseq.net ($88 or $99 for a haplogroup panel, depending on the haplogroup). For instance, someone who has been identified as a member of Y-haplogroup I1 can order the I1 panel testing nearly 600 SNPs under I1 for $99. At the time of writing, a similar I1 SNP pack at FTDNA contained only 172 SNPs for the same price. Nevertheless, a test like Living DNA will already include over 240 SNPs for haplogroup I1, and over 600 for a larger haplogroup like R1b, in addition to the mtDNA and autosomal DNA. So ordering custom SNP tests remains a more expensive option and is only recommended for people who want to dig as deep as possible in their Y-DNA phylogeny but can't afford a full Y chromosome test. YSEQ also sells full mtDNA sequences, but at $145, although cheaper than FTDNA ($159), it is probably not useful for ancestry purposes (see explanation).

    Another way to go is to sequence your whole Y chromosome. Such a test provides a high level of accuracy in order to discover new SNP's and to expand the phylogenetic tree considerably. For a while it was considerably cheaper to sequence only the whole Y chromosome rather than the whole genome. But as of 2021 some whole genome tests are cheaper than whole Y chromosome tests, starting at $399. (see whole genome sequencing below)

    If you nevertheless prefer to test only your Y chromosome, the most complete at the time of writing was FullGenomes' Y Elite Ancestry ($425), which yields a sequence of approximately 23 million base pairs on the Y chromosome at a 30x coverage, one thousand times more than the best ancestry test in the category of 23andMe, Ancestry.com and Living DNA. This is the ultimate tool in genetic genealogy and historical genetics as it allows a resolution of only two generations between SNPs. This means that a grandfather and grandson, or two paternal cousins will show at least one different SNP on their Y chromosome. With a new SNP for every two patrilineal ancestor, it becomes extremely easy to determine precisely how many generations ago two lineages diverged from one another. The test also includes 300 STR markers to use for surname projects (see below), nearly three times more than the most detailed test sold by FTDNA (111 STRs).

    Its only competitor at the moment is Family Tree DNA's Big Y test ($449). Despite the similar price, the Big Y test will generally yield less new SNPs because it tests a smaller part of the Y chromosome (18.5 million base pairs).

    Note that new SNP's identified by Full Genome Corporation have a name starting by 'FGC', while those found using the Big Y test start with 'BY', as you can see on phylogenetic trees like Yfull.com.

    Family Tree DNA also sells STR (short tandem repeat) tests for the Y chromosome. It is possible to determine deep clades with STR, but to get results more or less equivalent to those of 23andMe or LivingDNA, you will need to order the Y-111 ($249) and you will have to rely on haplogroup project administrators to determine your deep clade. There is a good chance that you won't know your deep Y-DNA clade for sure with an STR test alone and might still need to order an extra SNP test (typically $119) to confirm it. Unfortunately it is not possible to order directly a Y-DNA SNP test from this company, and they purposefully remove Y-DNA and mtDNA data from their Family Finder SNP test to force customers to order separate tests. Without additional SNP testing, the 111 Y-STR test included in the Comprehensive Genome will give you a depth of subclade slightly better than 23andMe's test, but not as good as Living DNA. To obtain the same resolution, you will end up paying at least $588 ($469 + $119), but you still won't have any medically relevant SNPs to analyse with third-party services (see below), as FTDNA had them specifically removed from the DNA testing chip.


    Conclusion: which budget test is the best?

    So which test to choose? Living DNA clearly stands out as the best test for overall for ancestry, be it for Y-DNA accuracy or autosomal ancestry report (most regions). AncestryDNA comes in second place for autosomal ancestry reports, but doesn't test Y-DNA or mtDNA haplogroups, which can be bothersome if you are into historical genetics. TellmeGen has a very good Y-DNA coverage, but the autosomal ancestry reports lacks reliability. If you don't need Y-DNA testing (e.g. for females) and plan to ignore the company's autosomal ancestry report and use third-party tools like GEDmatch or Eupedia's Ancient Ethnicities Analyzer instead, then all tests are pretty much equivalent.

    TellmeGen is undoutedly the best for health reports. 23andMe is the only real other competitor (if you live in the right country). If you are interested in third-party health reports, Ancestry.com has the second most medically relevant SNPs after tellmeGen. If you don't mind spending a bit more money, you could opt directly for a whole genome test with health reports like Sequencing.com. (see below)

    If one had to rely solely on autosomal reports, the most detailed and interesting one at the moment would be Living DNA's as it boasts the most reference populations. Almost everyone outside the American continent knows their recent ethnic origins (in the last few centuries) because little intermingling occurred after the great migrations of the Middle Ages (Germanics, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, Khazars, Magyars, Vikings, Arabs, Mongols). Therefore most Europeans and Asians will seek to learn about more ancient ancestry, which can't be guessed from genealogy nor clearly from ethnicity alone.

    AncestryDNA comes second for European ancestry, but would rank first for people with Native American, African or Pacific Island ancestry. The FTDNA Family Finder's report (My Origins) is more confusing than helpful as it is not linked to real ethnicities for Europeans or Middle Easterners.

    Family Tree DNA was a pioneer of commercial DNA test, but their adamant determination to stick with old-fashioned and expensive STR tests for Y-DNA, their dedication to tests for genealogical purpose, and the poor quality of the autosomal report, all together mean that it would be a disservice to recommend their tests for tracing back one's ancient ancestry. Their geographic projects, which list participants from specific countries or regions, were one of the main reasons for the company's popularity for many years. Yet, such projects are increasingly common on other websites, some entirely dedicated to that country's genetic heritage and is available in that country's language (such as the Serbian DNA Project).

    Company Autosomal ancestry report Y-DNA haplogroup mtDNA haplogroup Value for money Overall rating
    1. Living DNA
    2. tellmeGen
    3. Ancestry DNA
    4. 23andMe*
    5. Comprehensive Genome (FTDNA)
    6. Family Finder (FTDNA)
    7. MyHeritageDNA

    * Note that the score for 23andMe's value for money and overall rating depend on your country of residence. The best value for the ancestry only test is for the USA (99$) and Canada (129 CAD), then the UK (79£) and Northern Europe (99€), and finally other countries (in part due to the higher shipping fee).


    Whole genome sequencing

    With prices becoming more affordable, an increasing number of people are opting for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) testing 100% of one's DNA, against only about 1% for companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA and Living DNA. The quality of the sequencing depends on the coverage. A clinical-grade test requires at least a 30x coverage, meaning that the DNA segments will be read and compared 30 times over to prevent reading errors.

    The best deal is currently Sequencing.com's WGS 30x at 399$. This price include an ancestry report, and three health reports: the Wellness & Longevity Report (preventable diseases, conditions, and medication reactions), the Healthcare Pro Report (9 preventable diseases, 5 inherited diseases, and 11 drug responses), and the Rare Disease Screen (1,218 rare diseases, syndromes, conditions, and traits).

    Apart from the price, the best feature of this test is that it provides an Ultimate Compatibility File, a universally compatible txt file designed to work with third-party sites and autosomal calculators (GedMatch & Admixture Studio). With other companies, you will get a BAM file that can be converted to a txt file with a software like WGS Extract, which makes it a bit more tedious. What's more the txt file generated from a WGS will be huge and probably not compatible with several third-party sites. Sequencing.com bypasses this issue by generating a file only with the relevant data (the SNPs, excluding all the so-called 'junk DNA').

    Nebula Genomics's 30x WGS test is costly at $999, but has the great advantage of providing detailed health and ancestry reports, including Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups. There are occasional discounts, so seize the opportunity if you find a good deal (the lowest so far was $299). Nebula has a multilingual website available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian and Japanese.

    Dante Labs's 30x WGS test is a reasonable deal at €599. They have frequent sales and the lowest price so far was a mere €169. The test results only comes with one free Wellness & Lifestyle report covering 69 inherited diseases, conditions and disorders. You can purchase additional reports, but they are rather expensive at €24 or €49 per report (often for a single condition), or all panels for €499. According to the website they test 74 diseases (which they call 'common diseases' but are in fact rare genetic diseases), 124 drug responses, 23 conditions related to vitamins, nutrients and food and 114 related to fitness and metabolism. DanteLabs does do not provide any ancestry report, nor downloadable data by chromosome or in 23andMe compatible format (only BAM, FASTQ and VCF), so you won't be able to upload your raw data on most third party websites.

    YSEQ's WGS400 is the cheapest test ($399/€335) alongside Sequencing.com. It covers 400 base long reads specifically designed for genealogy researchers. Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups are provided, but otherwise no reports.

    YSEQ's Whole Genome Sequence ($599, 15x coverage, no report except Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups) is less recommended as it only genotypes your DNA, and does not sequence it. In other words, only known mutations in the reference samples will be listed, but unique mutations you might have won't be reported. Actually YSEQ mentions that 10 novel (Y-DNA) mutations in your sample will be verified by Sanger sequencing. That is not a lot, but at least you all known Y-DNA SNPs and the whole mtDNA sequence will be tested, in addition to tens of thousands of medically relevant X-DNA and autosomal SNPs.

    FullGenomes is pricier than its rivals (15x coverage for $645, 30x for $1150 and long-reads for $2900) and does not provide any report, going as far as to charge extra $75 to obtain a BAM file and another $10 to download it! Furthermore their website is cryptic when it comes to the test details.

    Company Price Coverage File formats Ancestry reports Haplogroups Disease reports Nutrition/Fitness reports
    Dante Labs €599 30x BAM, FASTQ, TBI, VCF no no 74 (incl. 69 free) 137 conditions (€499)
    FullGenomes 30x $1150 30x FASTQ ($75 extra for BAM) no Y-SNP & STR report ($50) no no
    Nebula Genomics $999 30x BAM, FASTQ, VCF yes (free) Y-DNA & mtDNA
    (free)
    ~130 (free) ~80 conditions
    (free)
    Sequencing.com $399 30x BAM, FASTQ, TXT, VCF various
    (free to $59)
    Y-DNA (free), mtDNA ($10) 1200+ (free) various
    (free to $119)
    YSEQ $399 400-Base Reads BAM, FASTQ, VCF no Y-DNA & mtDNA (free) no no

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