Currently, there are four different entities, 3 corporations and a nonprofit, that test autosomal DNA using the newest technology, the Illumina chip. There are different features and functions of each one.
I am describing them below in broad terms, and including links to articles where I and others have discussed their autosomal products.
23andMe – The first company to enter the chip based world of genetic processing by introducing a health traits and genealogy product that provided genealogists with cousin matches and percentages of ethnicity. They provide raw data files that can be downloaded and then uploaded to Family Tree DNA and GedMatch. In December 2012, after a significant capital investment, they dropped the price of their autosomal product to $99 with a goal to reach one million customers as a result. They currently have about 180,000.
Family Tree DNA - Clearly the leader in genetic genealogy testing, they offer the Family Finder test using the same chip based platform as 23andMe. Customers of 23andMe can upload their raw data file to Family Tree DNA for $89, effectively allowing them to fish in both pools for cousin matches and to obtain the ethnicity predictions from both companies. Family Tree DNA provides raw data files and numerous tools to assist the genealogist, including integrated searching of autosomal, Yline and mitochondrial matches. The Family Tree DNA Family Finder product is currently $199. Family Tree DNA customers are generally interested in genealogy, while 23andMe clients are often only interested in the health traits aspect of their test.
Ancestry – Ancestry introduced their AncestryDNA test in early 2012 by initially giving away tests, then selling tests for the reduced price of $99 to build their autosomal data base. Today, the tests range from $129 to $199 depending on whether or not you have an Ancestry.com subscription. Continued, complete access hinges upon maintaining a subscription at some level. Their test reports cousin matches and percentages of ethnicity. If your matches have attached their genealogy, and it’s not marked private, you can see if you share common ancestors by viewing their tree. Ancestry’s ethnicity predictions have significant issues, they provide no autosomal tools, such as a chromosome browser for cousin matching and they do not provide your raw data to download, although they have said they will provide that sometime in 2013.
National Geographic Genographic 2.0 – The latest autosomal test to be released is focused somewhat differently that the other tests. This test looks more at deep ancestry using the discoveries made within the Genographic project over the past 6 years. This test provides the deepest clade testing for the Y chromosome available from any test at any company. It also provides ethnicity percentages based on many newly discovered SNPs not in use elsewhere. The price is $199.
However, sometimes broad brush just isn’t enough and you want to know more of the nitty-gritty details. Fortunately, Dr. Tim Janzen has created a comparison chart that details the differences in the autosomal tests, the companies and the tools they provide genetic genealogists. This is an Excel spreadsheet and Tim had made it available for everyone on Dropbox, at this link:
Thanks Tim for making such a great tool and making it available to everyone!
In addition, Debbie Kennett has added a wiki page about comparing autosomal testing companies in the ISOGG Wiki at:
Thanks Debbie for your efforts to help everyone!