If you want to feel like you’re unlocking your DNA, you should buy a DNA kit from 23andMe. This company has the most features in its DNA test and allows you to browse your Neanderthal heritage as well as your maternal and paternal haplogroups. This company falls slightly behind Ancestry.com because its matching database is smaller and it doesn’t tell personalized historical stories based on your DNA.
23andMe gets its name from the 23 pairs of chromosomes that contain human DNA. This company offers two types of DNA tests: an ancestry test and a health and ancestry test. The health test can inform you if you have any genetic health risks and inform you if you are a carrier for some inherited conditions. This company meets FDA regulations, which is unique among the DNA companies we tested.
23andMe was one of the companies that required me to spit in a vial for my DNA testing. Several days after mailing my sample, I received an email notification that my DNA was being extracted from my saliva. Unlike the GPS Origins test and the Living DNA test, 23andMe didn’t give me an estimated day of completion. They simply stated that testing would take six to eight weeks. This company took 27 days to give me my results, one of the longest of the companies we tested, but much shorter than the maximum length of time advertised.
If you want to download your raw DNA data to upload to another site like MyHeritage or FamilyTree DNA, this company lets you download your results for free. It also has the second largest matching database of any company we tested, though it falls far short of Ancestry’s huge database.
Of all the companies we tested, 23andMe gives you the most information about your DNA. From the home page of your results you can view reports on your biogeographical ancestry, your maternal and paternal haplogroup histories and your Neanderthal ancestry and traits. National Geographic’s Geno 2.0 test was the only other test to include information about your Neanderthal background.
The ancestry composition section of this company’s results didn’t have a zoomable, scrollable map, but it did display all potential biogeographical ancestry percentages, showing down to 0.2 percent of my DNA which may be Ashkenazi Jewish. It also displays a timeline that estimates how many generations back you have to go to find members of each biogeographical region, something that no other company offers. It can be hard to piece together the story behind the percentages, however, and I appreciated the Genetic Communities from Ancestry.com which helped to tell the stories behind my DNA percentages.
23andMe also has a research section of its results that shows you scientific results from its database and science team. You have to answer questionnaires to unlock these insights, but they can be very interesting and your personal answers help to give the company information to compile more reports in the future.
Looking at the DNA results from 23andMe feels like you’re unlocking secrets about yourself. This company presents more reports and information than the other companies we tested, but it lacks the cousin-matching and personalized story capabilities of Ancestry.com. Depending on what you’re interested in, this could be the right DNA test kit for you.