Comparing the 5 Major DNA Tests: 23andMe

By Shannon Combs Bennett Premium

best dna test comparison

In our seven-part series on DNA tests, I’ve been giving an in-depth look at 5 of the major DNA tests on the market. In this fifth part of the series, we’re discussing testing with 23andMe.

Most people know about DNA testing from 23andMe due to their advertising campaign covering genetic traits. Which, to be honest, is why most people who are not genealogists test there. Heck, I have seen kits sold at pharmacies in my area! No matter your reason for thinking about taking a test at 23andMe, there are a few exciting analysis features on the site.

What DNA is included

While this company primarily looks at Autosomal DNA (atDNA), 23andMe will give the tester results about their paternal and maternal line haplogroups. If you are a woman, a male relative must test and then be connected to you on the website to see results about the Y-Chromosome. The information is interesting, shows migration patterns, and explains the inheritance of the DNA, but the company does not match you with potential relatives using only these two types of DNA. Currently, only Family Tree DNA does that.

What people love

One feature people have told me they like the way the site is full of large colorful graphics and explanations. For anyone who is not comfortable with genetic genealogy these sections help them grasp the concepts easier, and quicker. I am just a big fine of graphical explanations as a visual learner.

Of course, we want to know about finding living descendants of our ancestors. Your matches are under “DNA Relatives.” At 23andMe all information you would like to know about a match is located on one page. This makes analysis a bit easier since you do not have to flip back and forth between pages and have to scroll up and down. You can even send a message to your match without leaving the page!

The site does have a chromosome browser which you can use to compare multiple matches at one time. You also see the DNA segments between you and one person when you click on their name and pull up their match page. If your parents have both tested (or if you, your spouse, and your child/ren) you can also see which ethnic markers came from which parent. It is a pretty fascinating image, and if you do not know a lot about your ethnic heritage, this is one more way to break it down.

Keeping you safe

23andMe cares about your privacy, which can frustrate many users. I know that sounds odd, but bear with me. While you can see information about your matches under DNA Relatives to connect and get the more detailed information you must send a request to matches to share ancestry information. Then you wait. I admit I am bad about regularly going through my messages and accepting the share requests. Be patient with users is my only advice.

Next up, Living DNA.

2018 Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference

If you want to further your knowledge of genetic genealogy, don’t miss out on the 2018 Fall Virtual Conference! This conference will include the following Genetic Genealogy Track:

Beginners and more advanced genetic genealogists alike will find plenty of tips and resources they can do with their tests with these presentations:

Advanced GEDmatch Tools and Strategies

GEDmatch offers plenty of resources for testers from any company. In this presentation, we’ll cover some of the more advanced Tier 1 and free tools.


In this video presentation, you’ll learn how you can use phasing in your DNA testing.

7 Things You Can Do with Your DNA Results

In this video presentation, learn seven different ways you can use your DNA results to enrich your family history research.

Calculating DNA Relationships

In this presentation, we’ll cover the ins and outs of calculating DNA relationships, especially when the relationship is unknown or not clear.

Don’t miss out, sign up today!