Best Ancestry DNA Tests Compared and Reviewed (2018 Update)

23andme ancestry DNA test logo 150x75  familytreedna ancestry DNA test logo  ancestrydna ancestry DNA test logo 150x25  thegenographicprioject ancestry DNA test logo

If you’re thinking about getting your DNA tested, you’ve come to the right place.

On this site you’ll find the following resources to help you find the right test for your needs:

  1. In-Depth Reviews of the best ancestry DNA tests sold today including AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, 23AndMe and the Genographic Project
  2. Test Comparisons: detailed feature-by-feature comparisons of the latest DNA tests
  3. Top Picks for common DNA testing objectives including: tracing your roots, finding lost relatives and building out your family tree.

This site is designed for use on mobile phones.

To learn about me and how this site came to be, read my About page.

What Do You Want To Learn From Your Family’s DNA?

Select a goal from the list below to see my top pick for the job – and to learn why I picked it:

Learn about your ancestors.   Trace their global migration.   Confirm your ethnicity.

Connect with cousins.  Confirm long-held suspicions.  Know where you stand.

Use DNA to connect the dots.  Put your family tree research on autopilot. 

What Is a Ancestry DNA Test?

grandparents grandkids dna ancestry test

DNA tests are the amateur genealogist tool of choice.

Inexpensive ancestry DNA tests like the ones offered by 23AndMe,, FamilyTreeDNA and the Genographic Project have helped millions of people:

  • confirm long-held suspicions
  • trace ethnic roots
  • find lost relatives
  • connect family trees in ways never before possible. 

The consumer DNA testing market is now hitting critical mass. 

The DNA of millions of people is available online to match with yours. Every month, hundreds of thousands of people add their family’s DNA to the big 4 databases alone.

The good news is that prices have dropped significantly. You can get your DNA tested and analyzed by some of the major services for just $70 to $100.

The quality of consumer DNA tests is excellent now, too.


How Does an Ancestry DNA Test Work?

geneology roadshow

On the popular PBS series, Genealogy Roadshow, professional genealogists are using the same DNA tests discussed on this site to help families uncover the truth about their family heritage.  

If you’ve seen this show, then you’ve probably asked yourself, “how do these DNA tests actually work?”.

A family DNA test analyzes the 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes found in your DNA to reveal a wide variety facts about your genetic connection to the human race. 

This 15-minute video by Maurice Gleason does a great job explaining the benefits and limitations of autosomal DNA testing:

Some of the things that your autosomal DNA can reveal about your heritage include:

  • your ethnic / racial makeup
  • where your ancestors come from
  • who your parents really are
  • whether you have royal blood

But no single genealogy DNA test does all of the above equally well. 

The ‘Big 4’ Ancestry DNA Tests

23andme ancestry DNA test logo 150x75  familytreedna ancestry DNA test logo  ancestrydna ancestry DNA test logo 150x25  thegenographicprioject ancestry DNA test logo

The family DNA testing market today is dominated by four providers:

Together, these companies store over 90% of the autosomal DNA records available to family researchers.

This is a critical fact, because the size of a DNA database means everything: you stand a much better chance finding lost relatives in a Big 4 database of 800,000 people vs. using a specialty service with only 50,000 or so.

The ‘Big 4’ tests share many things in common:

  • they are all designed for genealogy research
  • they all cost $69-$199 per person (DNA sample)
  • they all use the same basic technology, autosomal DNA matching. 

That said the information, services and tools offered by each test vary greatly.

It’s important to know your research goal to pick the right test for your needs.

See How The Big 4 Ancestry DNA Tests Compare

Family DNA Tests Compared

Do You Want to Understand Your Roots?

  • Learn about your ancestors
  • Trace their ancient migration routes
  • Confirm your racial makeup and ethnicity

Then I recommend The Genographic Project by National Geographic.

thegenographicprioject ancestry DNA test logo

Price: $199

genogaphic project


Why The Genographic Project The Best Test for Tracing Your Roots

First off, National Geographic’s global Genographic Project offers the most comprehensive ancient history DNA database on the market.

Using a custom-designed DNA test (provided by FamilyTreeDNA), the Genographic Project is specifically designed tell you who your ancestors were, where they lived and how they migrated across the globe. It will also tell you your racial and ethnic origins.

Unlike pure autosomal tests that can only trace relations back 5 or 6 generations, the Genographic Project profiles your family history as far back as 300,000 years.

The Genographic Project also offers a slick and easy-to-navigate user interface for browsing through your ancestry. It’s good enough to give classroom or family reunion presentations straight from your laptop or tablet.


Do You Want to Find Relatives or Confirm a Relationship?

  • Find missing parents and siblings.
  • Connect with cousins from around the world.
  • Confirm new DNA matches using advanced tools.

Then I recommend Family Finder by FamilyTree DNA.

familytreedna ancestry DNA test logo

Price: $79-99
FamilyTreeDNA Review


Why Family Finder is the Best Test For Finding & Confirming Relatives

FamilyFinder offers everything a serious family genealogist would need in a single integrated platform. It was designed specifically to help families find and connect with new relatives around the world, and it does this better than any other DNA test.

Serious amateur genealogists will love FamilyFinder’s international DNA coverage, DNA record import capability, built-in family tree manager and native chromosome mapper. For larger projects (see example), no other service comes close to the level of support and tools that FTDNA offers.

FamilyFinder is also the only service that provides the private email address of each new match. This means you can establish private conversations with FTDNA’s responsive community of genetic genealogy enthusiasts.

If you’ve previously tested with another DNA service and want to extend your research, then you are in luck. Because FamilyFinder is the only vendor that lets you import DNA data from other services

Using FamilyTreeDNA’s FREE data upload feature, you can see if there are any new DNA matches waiting for you in their huge international DNA database that’s growing in size by 10,000s of people every month (Note: to connect with or verify matches, you’ll have to pay a fee).

If your family lives in several countries today, then FamilyTreeDNA is a great choice. People from over 200 countries have contributed DNA to their database.


Do You Want to Build Your Family Tree?

  • Find potential new relatives.
  • Research your family history.
  • Connect your family tree with others.
  • Keep things simple.

Then I recommend AncestryDNA by

ancestrydna ancestry DNA test logo 150x25

Price: $79-99
AncestryDNA Review


Why AncestryDNA is The Best Test for Building Family Trees

AncestryDNA keeps things simple!

And there’s a lot to like about that.

In business for over ten years, parent company maintains the world’s largest collection of family trees and the most extensive genealogical research data base anywhere. 

With AncestryDNA added to the mix, can now help you identify potential new relatives using your autosomal DNA.

Using their proprietary “leaf” alert system, AncestryDNA will automatically inform you when there is a new potential relative found in their DNA database. They offer unique tools that will help you triangulate and map your family trees with others, assuming the trees aren’t locked by the either party.

We love AncestryDNA’s user interface and their attempt to keep things as simple as possible.

That said, AncestryDNA does not offer a chromosome mapping tool, so you’ll have to purchase that separately if you want to verify your potential matches.


A Final Note

I hope this website simplifies your quest to map your family’s genetic history

If you have any comments, clarifications or questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Good luck on your quest.

All the best,

Charles McKnight