What to Order? – Geno 2.0 vs Family Tree DNA Products

Update: Please note that the Genographic kits are no longer available, but the Family Tree DNA products are. You can click here to order.

There have been a lot of questions lately about what to order from whom and why relative to the Geno 2.0 kit and the Family Tree DNA products.  I’ve but together the following table as a “cheat sheet” that includes the basic reasons that people order one versus the other, or both.

In a nutshell, if it’s genealogy you’re interested in, then you want to order the Family Tree DNA products because they provide you with specific mutation locations, the mutation values and a list of matches to other people based on those mutations.  The Geno 2.0 tests are more anthropological (deep ancestry) in nature.  In some cases, specifically the Y-line testing, these tests go hand in hand.

Product Desired Family Tree DNA Geno 2.0
Markers for genealogy, matches with other people in a genealogical timeframe 12, 25, 37, 67 and 111 markers and values, includes matches and other tools No
Haplogroup assignment Included with purchase of above markers at a general level.  Can then order additional SNP tests or Geno 2.0 to obtain deeper results. Extensive – deepest available within industry and inclusive of SNPs discovered through November 2011
Ethnicity of that specific line based on haplogroup assignment Yes Yes
Maps, haplogroup origins Yes Yes
Mitochondrial DNA
Mutations for genealogy, matches with other people in a genealogical timeframe mtDNA (HVR1), mtDNAPlus (HVR1+HVR2) and full sequence mutations, includes matches and other tools. No
Haplogroup assignment Included with purchase at general level.  Full assignment at deepest level with the full sequence. Yes, deepest level.
Ethnicity of that specific line based on haplogroup assignment Yes Yes
Maps, haplogroup origins Yes Yes
Autosomal Family Finder
Ethnicity percentages for all ancestral lines combined* Yes Yes
Cousin matches Yes, list of matches provided with common surnames if information provided by tester No
Download of data Yes Yes
Transfer to Family Tree DNA N/A Yes – must be manually initiated
Social Networking Tools No Yes – not at initial release

*Note that the ethnicity percentages will be calculated using different base populations and the results will likely be somewhat different.  The National Geographic product is using new SNP data gathered through their field work within the Genographic Project.  So while this information is provided in both tests, I would not presume it will be the same nor that it is duplicative.

This table isn’t meant to be a description or comparison of every feature in the various tests, but the decision criteria to purchase one type of test versus the other.



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45 thoughts on “What to Order? – Geno 2.0 vs Family Tree DNA Products

  1. Bobbi, I don’t know what the Geno 2.0 is. And if I have FF and 23&me, do I need to do a mtDNA test? Brownie

  2. Is it true that FTDNA is handling the lab part of new Geno 2.0 test? Do you know if you need to send a different DNA sample to FTDNA if you test with Geno 2.0 and then want the y-line and mtDNA mutation markers? Or can FTDNA use the DNA sample you collected for the Geno 2.0 test?

    • Yes, that is accurate. At this point, they are handled by two different order centers, and different DNA samples are required for the Geno test and any Family Tree DNA tests.

      • Yesterday I sent back my husband’s test kit from FTDNA for full sequence mtDNA. I also this weekend received the test kits for Geno 2 so I sent them along at the same time…both the FTDNA and the Geno 2 kits got sent back to the exact same address for the lab in Houston. The Geno 2 kit sign in process seemed to indicate that after the results come back I will have an opportunity through a link in the Geno 2 account I just created to transfer sample and results to FTDNA. I am assuming when I do that it will let me sign into an existing FTDNA account so that my sample and results are attached to an existing account. I also read that transferring to FTDNA will then make that sample available for upgrade there. Bottom line, it seems the Geno 2 sample can be added to an existing FTDNA account, or be upgraded to other FTDNA products once it is transferred.

  3. Roberta,
    I am involved with a research group. We have 12 matching kits of various genetic distance. My perfect match is with a person with a different surname, ( not from adoption). We “think” this goes back 5 generations to the connection. Would a Family Finder test be benifical for us?
    I also have a know relative in the group,but no knowledge of degree. We think our ancestors were brothers. We are talking 1770/80. Would the family finder test help define that relativeness?
    Appreciate any input.

    • Hi Joyce. I recently blogged about a similar case. I can’t say whether it would or wouldn’t. The only real way to know is to take the FF test. I’d say in your case, you could confirm the relationship, but you would not be able to interpret a nonmatch as negative. My family is working on a similar situation with one from the same timeframe. Here’s the blog you need to reference that explains the methodology.


      • Would the FTDNA participants need to do a new swab? They have all done the yDNA tests up to a min of 37 markers.

          • I am sorry. I must have missed something. We have testee’s that have done min of 37 markers at FTDNA. You said the FF test would be benificial. I thouht that was Family Finders test do you need the geno.2 test instead?

          • Yes, FF is Family Finder. The only reason you might want the Geno 2.0 is to determine the deepest haplogroup clade and/or another test to give you percentages of ethnicity. Geno 2.0 will not give you the list of cousin matches that FF will.

          • Thats what I thought. Do we have to submit another cheek swab? For some of our members that might not now be possible.

          • Yes, for Geno 2.0, but later they may be able to upgrade from an existing sample. However, if it’s just the deep haplogroup info you need, order one kit for someone in the group who is living. The deep haplogroup info pertains to everyone in that family surname group who is related via the STR markers. For Family Finder, they don’t need to submit another swab if the sample is still viable.

  4. I am looking for the right product for a good friend of mine. He is adopted, knows his biological family name and would like to know his geaneology and ancestry. Would Geno 2.0 or Family Tree DNA be the better choice?

  5. Robert thank you so very much for your evaluation of Family Tree DNA and the National Geographic DNA study and your blog. I found all this information very helpful and appreciate your willingness to help others. I have a question also. Who would be the better candidate for the Geno 2.0 project my brother or me. Since he has the X & Y I thought he would however, after finding your information I wanted your opinion. Thank you for your service. Betty

    • He would be because he has the Y. You both have the same mitochondrial DNA, but don’t confuse that with the X chromosome. You carry 2 X chromosomes which make you a female and he carried one, from mother only, plus the Y from Dad which makes him male:)

  6. Thank you for your shared information. I took the test Geno-2 from the National Genographic project and my results are returned as being T2B3 from my maternal line. I don’t have any male family members on my father’s side who might want to share. Is there any other information I can obtain from my results?

  7. Do you have any experience with AncestryDNA from Ancestry.com? Just wondering how that compares to Geno2.0 as I was about to buy Geno until I realized this other one exists as well. Thanks.

    • They are very different. Look at today’s blog about Adoptees and it has a lot of info about ancestry’s test. It depends on what you are looking for. Ancestry has a lot of issues. I would recommend Family Finder over Ancestry. Those two are more comparable than Ancestry and Geno 2.0. Search on by blog for “Ancestry” in the search box in the upper right hand corner. I’ve written about their test several times.

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  10. I am very interested in DNA history and population movement etc. I have followed the Nat Geo projects since they started. I am saving money for the new Nat Geno 2.0 and would also like to do the Family Finder. However, as a female, will I be able to get as much information as a male relative would be able to get on some of the J markers for migration? My family only has 3 living males – and it is doubtful that any of them will agree. However, if it would provide more info, I would try work very hard to talk 1 of them into participating and paying for the test. Not sure it will be possible, but I would give it a try – although I would worry a bit about the kits not coming out until Oct. The one that might consider it is 95…

  11. What test would you suggest for a female that has been adopted but has been able to locate who her mother was and that family line. The AncestryDNA test has been done but we are at a standstill knowing which way to go.

  12. I came across your posting here via a google search on DNA testing. I was up on my genealogy research a while back but have not worked with it for quite a while so I am rusty. We did the original National Geographic Geno test. It didnt really tell us what we were looking for. It gave us a haplo group and a migration line/map and how old the line is. We are looking for proof of any native american lineage and of course family connections and other ethnicity. There are so many tests out there these fays. 23andme, FTDNA (can have markers further tested), Ancestry.com’s dna test to name just a few. Its all greek to me. I cant tell what is the best choice. Can you please suggest to me, what you think it is we need? Any suggestions or guidance is most appreciative. Thank you.

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  14. Hi, I am from Norway and I was considering giving my father and mother the Geno 2.0 kit, one each, and maybe I should have one of the Family Tree DNA product for my self. But I got a little confused. Can you advise me on which is the best “combo” of Geno 2.0 and with what Family Tree DNA product should I choose? And with who should swab their cheeks; my grandmother (my mothers mother), my mother, my father, my fathers sister, and/or me? 🙂

  15. Hello,

    Found your site while researching different DNA testing options. I am trying to get some more info on where my father and his family come from, he was always very non-specific, and would say “Assyria”, when asked. I realize there are limitations when doing these tests, will any of them be more specific as to region, or will it be a waste of money? I don’t have anyone that can take tests too, so it’s whatever can be extracted from me!

    Thank you


  16. Hello! I’m torn between the Family Tree DNA “Family Finder” test and the National Geographic test as a Christmas gift for my 90-year-old grandmother. While I do think it’s genealogy she’s more interested in, it seems that the National Geographic test’s results may be more user-friendly for a beginner. Is that accurate? Also, she does not know much about her paternal side, so I wonder if one test might be preferable? Thank you!

    • Neither test will help you with her paternal side. One thing you may want to strongly consider is that FTDNA archives her DNA for 25 years. The Nat Geo will give her an mtDNA haplogroup designation and an ethnicity chart. You can then transfer that to FTDNA and unlock her kit and obtain autosomal matches and then run the full mitochondrial test. It would less expensive in the long run to just do the Family Finder test at FTDNA, and the full sequence mitochondrial. You will likely have to explain what they mean to her regardless of which company you use. The Family Tree DNA results will be more comprehensive. In the end, I think it’s just a matter of personal choice.

  17. Hi! I am adopted from South Korea and now that I am getting older, I am wanting to know what my ethnic background is. I am 28 years old, I have been in the U.S. all my life except the 3 months I was still in South Korea. There is absolutely no way for me to find or know where my birth parents are from or who they are. My Korean name was given to me by the doctors. I do not really have the need to find any kind of relatives. I don’t need to be put on a family tree. All I want to know is what ethnicity I am. If both my birth parents are Korean or do I have other ethnicity in my DNA, which I’m sure I do. I have been looking into the Geno 2.0. Is that what you might recommend is best for me?

  18. I found 12 years after my wife, my son’s birth mother, DIED (1980 at age 30, drug OD) that she was adopted. I have asked NY state for adoption info, but they refused. My son, a 45 year old non-smoker, non-drinker (vice is coffee) was married on 03 October 2014 and they found on 06 October 2014 (3 days later) that he had a 9 CM mass in his left Kidney (Renal Cell Carcinoma). The mass and Kidney were removed on 03 November 2014 along with some lymph nodes and determined he was “clean”. Four months later a spot was found on his Lung, and the MD chose to wait and see (why I do not know). About 4 more months later he was diagnosed as a Stage Four Lung Cancer patient, the Renal Cell had matastasized to about 12-18 spots total in both Lungs. He was started on a pill form of Chemotherapy at MOrton=Plant and has now been changed from Morton-Plant Hospital in Clearwater, FL to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL and gone through 2 series (15 injections over 5 days = one series) of Immunotherapy, completing about 24 of 30 sets of the drug (well above what the average person can tolerate).
    I wish to have his and my DNA tested to obtain as much information on his ancestry and whatever else DNA testing can reveal to hopefully find whatever information the tests might be able of uncovering to help determine his ancestry, his genetic makeup, and thereby help with his treatments.
    I am somewhat confused by all your info, but hope you would be able to direct me to the most comprehensive test or tests and testing sources to aid in my quest.
    Thank you in advance for your help and knowledge sharing.

  19. both of my grandmothers (paternal & maternal) are of chinese descent. both of my grandfathers are of european descent. will geno 2.0 determine the lineage of my grandfather in my maternal side?

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