Ranking Criteria Explained
In order to make our ultimate guide of the best DNA tests available, our professional team defined numerous ranking criteria with the end goal of putting DNA testing providers under heavy scrutiny and determining which ones are the best of the best.
The most significant criteria that we used in order to measure the reliability of the tests featured on our list included test quality and accuracy and the likelihood of errors and test failures. Of no lesser importance was the size of the user database searched for potential DNA matches. Service quality was assessed by employing criteria including but not limited to waiting times and features and benefits available to members. Finally, we took into account the prices of the tests and determined whether they were justified by the quality of the service provided.
With these and other, less significant determinants, we were able to produce a wide comparison between the leading companies on the market and their tests. Each of them was analyzed objectively, which resulted in our ultimate guide to the
best-ranked DNA tests of 2021.
We’ll talk more about each DNA testing provider in the following reviews, explaining the advantages these companies hold over the competition. You can familiarize yourself with their services in broad strokes here and follow up your research with our full-length reviews for each DNA testing company.
Our Top Picks
When looking for the best DNA tests to fit your budget, your personal goals, and the overall scope of your genetic exploration, researching all the available options is of paramount importance. Whether you are just interested in satisfying your curiosity or embarking on a serious DNA-related quest, the following mini-reviews will familiarize you with the top at-home testing solutions currently on the market.
MyHeritage is a DNA testing company that provides a combination of genealogical exploration and ancestry DNA testing. The Isreal-based company implemented its ancestry DNA test in 2016, which skyrocketed the company among the market giants. In addition to boasting 2.7 billion users in its family trees, 93 million users worldwide, and 8.3 billion historical records, MyHeritage can also provide a precise and reliable picture of your genetic origins and the geographic movement of your ancient relatives throughout the ages.
MyHeritage DNA test is autosomal, which means it inspects genetic markers within 22 pairs of your chromosomes. The price of the test is 79$ (with frequent discounts) and the processing is done in Family Tree DNA’s lab. The facility is CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited, which ensures top-of-the-line service. The team in charge of processing your DNA sample is highly skilled and professional, leaving absolutely zero room for any errors or test failures. Apart from its DNA test, you can also purchase a MyHeritage subscription and start browsing its veritable thesaurus of human history. The available subscription plans include Data subscription, Free plan, MyHeritage Premium, and MyHeritage PremiumPlus.
The Free plan includes up to 250 people in your family tree and up to 500 MB of storage, which is more than generous as it allows you to get started with your ancestral exploration without investing a single dollar.
Data subscription (13.27$ per year) gives you access to MyHeritage’s genealogical collection filled with birth, marriage, and death records, old directories, guides, yearbooks, and newspapers, military, legal, and census records, and photos, family trees, maps, and documents.
MyHeritage Premium subscription (9.17$ per month, billed annually) implements the expansion of your family tree to 2,500 relatives, provides priority support, and gives access to the MyHeritage family sites and members collection feature in SuperSearch, Family Tree Builder Platinum, and enhanced Smart Matching. MyHeritage PremiumPlus subscription (10.95$ per month, billed annually) comes with family tree of unlimited size. You’ll also receive full access to Instant Discoveries, which allows you to add entire branches to your family tree with a single click.
AncestryDNA is an integral part of Ancestry.com, the largest genealogical enterprise today. It was established out of necessity to complement genealogy with genetics in an effort to research the deep ancestry of humanity as a species. Ancestry.com includes several other segments besides AncestryDNA, like AncestryHealth and
their Ancestry online magazine with over 2 million paying subscribers and 16 million uploaded historic records, documents, personal stories, and photos. It enriches the overall DNA testing experience with AncestryDNA and puts faces on some of your newly found relatives.
The only test offered by the company is simply called Ancestry DNA Test. It includes autosomal, Y-chromosome, and mitochondrial testing. As you can see, the test does include paternal/maternal lineage exploration, but separate testing solutions and results are no longer available. It checks 700k genetic markers, which ensures high-level accuracy.
The test results provide possible DNA matches within the biggest DNA database in the industry (4 million people), an interactive ethnicity map, enabling you to see your ancestors through time on a geographical scale, including permanent locations and migration routes, DNA circles, providing the possibility of gathering in clusters with your living relatives found through AncestryDNA, and the “Map and Locations” map (special add-on for Ancestry Magazine subscribers) that will show you the birthplaces of your ancestors, ranging back up to 10 generations. The report also includes information about your potential Native American ancestry lines.
23andMe is a popular at-home DNA testing service launched back in 2006 by Anne Wojcicki, Paul Cusenza, and Linda Avey. The company is headquartered in California (Mountain View) and it won the Time Magazine Invention of the Year title in 2008.
23andMe utilizes a process called genotyping to identify certain variations that make your genetic signature unique. These variations are known to be associated with genetic traits, ancestry, and important health conditions, which explains how 23andMe reports can fundamentally change how you perceive your health and genetic heritage.
At the moment, 23andMe features three testing solutions:
Ancestry + Trait Service (99$) – 50+ ancestry reports, DNA Relative Finder, Automatic Family Tree Builder, 30+ trait reports
Health + Ancestry Service (199$) – Everything covered with Ancestry + Trait Service, 10+ health predisposition reports, 40+ carrier status reports, 5+ wellness reports
VIP Health + Ancestry Service (499$) – Everything covered with the two previous options, priority lab processing, premium customer support, 1-on-1 ancestry results walkthrough
You can download your raw DNA data and use it with similar companies, no matter what testing option you choose. Ancestry + Trait Service allows you to add health predisposition, carrier status, and wellness reports later on for an additional fee of 125$. The results are usually generated within 3-5 weeks and available on your personal 23andMe account. The FDA-cleared at-home testing kit is designed to collect your saliva sample and keep it protected on its way to the lab.
23andMe processing labs are all CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited and its staff consists of well-known experts in their respective fields. Lastly, all 23andMe reports are based on well-established medical and scientific research.
Family Tree DNA
Founded in 2016 as a subsidiary of DNA Worldwide Group, Living DNA is one of the youngest DNA testing providers on the market. Its parent company worked with prestigious names in the DNA industry including Family Tree DNA, Scotland’s DNA, and over a hundred leading academic researchers, scientists, and genetic experts in order to develop Living DNA.
What makes Living DNA stand out is that its ancestry test covers 80 regions of the world. It also offers the most in-depth coverage of the British Isles, with 21 regions included. The test follows the “3-in-1” principle, meaning it checks your autosomal and gender chromosomes as part of a single test. Keep in mind, however, that separate options for exploring your paternal and maternal lines are not available.
The price of the test is 159$ (with frequent discounts) and you can expect to get highly accurate results, with 650k genetic markers checked and 80 regions explored. This allows for excellent ethnic coverage and geographical information going back thousands of years into the past. With your results, you also get the “Back in Time” map, with a comprehensive historical overview of your genetic ancestry. Unfortunately, Living DNA still does not offer the possibility of relative matching due to its modest database, but considering the company has only been in the business for two years, this features is to be expected in the future.
As science and the company’s systems evolve, your results will be updated completely free of charge to provide you with ongoing details about your ancestry.
Family Tree DNA is one of the leading DNA testing companies. It was founded in 1999 as a division of Gene by Gene. At that moment, its parent company already had over 5 million DNA tests performed for countless organizations and individuals. Its headquarters is located in Houston, Texas.
You can choose between four different tests:
1. Paternal Ancestry $119 – Biological Male-Specific Test
2. Family Ancestry $79
3. Family Ancestry + myDNA Wellness $119
4. Maternal Ancestry $159
The testing technology is the final word of the genetic science and the results are thoroughly explained through the abundance of information available on its website. Connecting with your DNA matches is made easy through your personal profile on the site.
The autosomal transfer allows dipping into several unique databases, upping the chances of locating unknown relatives. Unlike most leading DNA companies, Family Tree DNA also ships worldwide, which goes to show the number of relevant and influential partnerships it has made over the years.
Embark is a dog DNA testing company founded by Adam and Ryan Boyko, two enthusiastic researchers and scientists who dedicated their professional careers to unriddling the genetic foundation for numerous dog diseases and traits. The company works closely with a multitude of breeders and veterinarians who are constantly collecting new data to aid in the ongoing research.
With a price tag of 199$, Embark Dog DNA Test provides dog owners, breeders, and vets with a wide array of useful and accurate information. It checks 200,000 genetic markers, which ensures maximum precision, examines your dog’s DNA for traces of more than 250 dog breeds (including coyote, village dog, and wolf ancestry), and gives you accurate results regarding the breed composition and ancestry of your furry friend. Your dog’s DNA will also be screened for more than 165 genetic diseases, which can enable you to take preventative measures in advance in case your pet is at a high risk of developing a certain condition. Finally, the results will help you determine your pet’s genetic age translated into human years, allowing you to take better care of your furry friend. Embark offers tailored genetic tests for breeders with the price tag of 179$. Bulk orders come at a significant discount.
Embark test can also provide your veterinarian or animal clinic with essential information about your dog’s health and genetic structure. The final results are usually generated between 3 and 7 weeks after the lab receives the relevant DNA samples.
TeloYears is a genetic test developed by Telomere Diagnostics Inc. The company was launched in 2010 and its core team includes Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her revolutionary work in the field of telomere biology.
The basic idea behind the test lies in measuring the cellular age encoded in your DNA signature. This information helps you realize the correlation between your cellular age and your aging process in general. The test should inspire people to grow and improve in all fields of personal wellness.
The price of the TeloYears test is 99$ and you also can also purchase the company’s Now and Later pack, which is designed to save you money and allow you to view your improvements over a period of 6 or 12 months. Apart from the main test, you can purchase the company’s Advanced Ancestry testing solution (99$), which covers 62 world regions and provides you with detailed information about your genetic heritage, including information on potential East Asian ethnicity and Jewish heritage. The average turnaround time for this testing option is between 6 and 8 weeks after the lab receives your sample. You can order both tests bundled together at a price of 169$.
The final results should be ready in 3-4 weeks and they’ll also contain your personal Blueprint for Aging Well, which is a telomere science-based tool designed to help you understand your results and take action based on detailed self-assessment.
GPS Origins is a modern ancestry DNA test offered by DNA Diagnostics Center, one of the most hi-tech companies in the field. The main advantage of this test is its ability to provide you with extremely specific ancestral results, including the exact locations where your DNA originated. The test was developed by Dr. Eran Elhaik, the multidisciplinary team leader at the University of Sheffield.
DDC is a well-known brand in the field of genetic testing, famous for its robotics technology used in DNA sequencing and modern testing facilities. It was launched back in 1995 with the idea of making scientific breakthroughs in the field of genetic testing available to the general public.
GPS Origins checks 800,000 genetic markers and covers 41 regions with 1,000+ reference populations. This makes it one of the most precise and accurate ancestry DNA tests on the market. It traces your genetic ancestry more than 1,000 years in the past, pinpointing to exact towns and villages. The average turnaround time is around 6 weeks after receiving your sample.
The results will include maps of your top 3 ancestral origins, a comprehensive gene pool profile with detailed genetic percentages, and a map that illustrates your paternal and maternal migration routes with full descriptions on how circumstances changed for your ancestors as they crossed continents in search of a better life. The price of the GPS Origins test is 199$.
GPS Origins can also work with genetic data obtained from other companies, including Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA, National Geographic.com, and 23andMe. The price of uploading your raw data is 39$. You can also order test versions that focus on Asian and African ancestry and explore 17 and 11 relevant gene pools, respectively. The price of these tests is 199$.
Futura Genetics is a young DNA testing provider launched in 2014 with headquarters in Vancouver. The company specializes in healthcare and lifestyle DNA testing and provides its users with a comprehensive and affordable doorway into the human genome. The core philosophy of Futura Genetics is to make genetic data available to the general public as opposed to corporate giants and rich individuals.
The Futura Genetics test is designed to help you measure the overall risk of developing any of the 28 most common genetic diseases and conditions worldwide. Its team of experts picks only the most appropriate DNA markers for each disease, based on years of experience and DNA studies on Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with human genetic diseases.
Futura Genetics test costs 339€ and is performed in a CLIA-certified, state-of-the-art laboratory located in the EU. The lab also holds ISO-9001, ISO-15189, and DNA Profiling External Quality Assessment certificates. Your final report will contain 26 pages of essential information regarding your genetics with detailed explanations and scientific data included.
JScreen is a nonprofit partner of Emory University dedicated to education and carrier screening programs for Jewish genetic diseases. It was listed as one of the most innovative American Jewish organizations in 2014. The enterprise was founded by Randy and Caroline Gold, long-term Jewish community activists. Apart from JScreen, the Golds also run the ML4 foundation trying to discover a cure for their daughter’s Mucolipidosis Type IV (ML4).
Jscreen test scans for 200 genetic diseases, 19 of which are almost exclusive to individuals with Jewish genetic heritage. If you don’t have insurance or can’t afford the test, you can apply for JScreen’s financial assistance program and receive limited financial support. JScreen tests all females for Fragile X Syndrome completely free of charge as women have a 50% chance of transferring the illness to their children after giving birth. The test results are usually generated within 3-4 weeks of receiving your sample.
If your test results identify you as a carrier for certain diseases, it usually means you won’t develop the said diseases yourself. For the majority of conditions on JScreen’s panel, you must have two copies of the non-working disease gene (one from each parent) in order to have the condition yourself. Therefore, testing positive usually poses a risk only to future children and ONLY if your partner also carries the condition.
Screening also allows you to learn if you already have one (or more) of the diseases, including Gaucher Disease and late-onset Tay Sachs. In this case, the company’s genetic counselors will be at your disposal.