Tutorial: Understanding the difference between NXT set versions

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sets come in three different versions, which can be confusing at times. What are the differences, what do the sets have in common? How about NXT versions and NXT books? This article should answer these questions. If you don’t want to read the whole article, here’s the most important stuff — Later in the article each of these terms will be explained further.

Most important similarities:

  • The NXT Intelligent Brick is the same in all versions of the Mindstorms NXT sets.
  • The NXT motors are the same in all versions of the Mindstorms NXT sets. Each version has three of such motors
  • Each set contains 1 Ultrasonic (distance) sensor.
  • Each set contains at least 1 Touch Sensor.

One product, three editions

The first MINDSTORMS NXT set was released in 2006. MINDSTORMS NXT is the name of LEGO’s present (2006 – now) robotics building platform. Its name is NXT as in ‘next’, because it is the next generation, after the robotics system from 1998. Since 2006, three versions NXT base sets came out, briefly listed below. The first two are often referred to as “Retail NXT or Retail NXT 2.0”, as opposed to “Education NXT”.

Additionally, there are two versions of element resource sets (These contains just plastic building parts, no electronic components!). While intended as add-on packs for the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Education base kit, they are also a perfect parts resource for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT or LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0.

  • LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Education Resource Set “old” (Set number 9648, see contents, discontinued)
  • LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Education Resource Set “new” (Set number 9695, see contents)

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT (Set number 8527, discontinued)

NXT "1.0" 8527

This first edition of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT (set 8527) was released in 2006 and discontinued in 2009 (replaced by NXT 2.0, see below). It’s official name is simply MINDSTORMS NXT, but more practically speaking, you should read this as “MINDSTORMS NXT 1.0“. Here’s the summarized specs.

  • Total of 577 building elements, see full overview
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Intelligent Brick
  • 3x MINDSTORMS NXT Motors
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Ultrasonic Sensor
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Sound Sensor
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Touch Sensor
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Light Sensor
  • Set of 7 NXT compatible connector cables
    (1x Short [15cm] , 4x Medium [35 cm], 2x Long [50 cm])
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT “1.0” Programming Software

Observe that this set has only one Touch Sensor, but also a Sound Sensor. The sound sensor measures only volume, sound intensity – it does not recognize voices. Also, the Light Sensor measures light intensity only. For details on sensing colors, see “Color Sensor vs. Light sensor” below. The software version 1.0 can be upgraded for free, see “Upgrading Software” section.

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 (Set number 8547)

NXT 2.0 8547

MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 (8547) came in 2009 to replace the older “NXT 1.0”. This set can presently (2009 – ~) be found in larger toy stores and online. Here’s the summarized specs.

  • Total of 619 building elements, see full overview
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Intelligent Brick
  • 3x MINDSTORMS NXT Motors
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Ultrasonic Sensor
  • 2x MINDSTORMS NXT Touch Sensor
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Color Sensor
  • Set of 7 NXT compatible connector cables
    (1x Short [15cm] , 4x Medium [35 cm], 2x Long [50 cm])
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT “2.0” Programming Software

Observe that this set has no Sound Sensor, but instead it has two Touch Sensors. The Color Sensor in this kit can sense both colors and light intensity. For details on sensing colors, see “Color Sensor vs. Light sensor” below.

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Education (Set number 9797)

NXT Education Base set: 9797

This edition — MINDSTORMS NXT Education Base Set — is specifically designed for schools.

  • Total of 431 building elements, see full overview
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Intelligent Brick
  • 3x MINDSTORMS NXT Motors
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Ultrasonic Sensor
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Sound Sensor
  • 2x MINDSTORMS NXT Touch Sensor
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Light Sensor
  • Set of 7 NXT compatible connector cables
    (1x Short [15cm] , 4x Medium [35 cm], 2x Long [50 cm])
  • Set of 3 NXT to 9V system converter cables
  • 3x 9V system Lamp
  • 1x MINDSTORMS NXT Rechargable Battery. Be sure to check whether or not the charger is included. If not, buy the appropriate charger (see below) separately.

Notice that this set contains more electronic components than any other NXT set, but it contains fewer regular building elements (that’s what the resource pack is for, see below). The included Light Sensor measures light intensity only. For details on sensing colors, see “Color Sensor vs. Light sensor” below. The sound sensor measures only volume, sound intensity – it does not recognize voices.

This Education set does not come with software! MINDSTORMS Education NXT software is sold seperately by LEGO Education.

NXT Education Resource kits

Since the Education base set comes with fewer parts than other NXT Sets, you are limited to what you can build with the available pieces. The so called LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Education resource set is a supplemental parts pack that expands the Education base set so you can build bigger robots. Note that this set does not contain any motors or sensors. It contains extra beams, gears, wheels and connectors. Until February 2011, LEGO Education sold the “old version” of this set (9648, see contents). The present Resource Set “the new version” is sold as set number 9695 (see contents). When you buy this resource kit, keep in mind that some stores may still have the “old” version in stock, so be sure to look at the set numbers when you buy.

While these sets were designed to be used with the MINDSTORMS NXT Education Base set, they are also perfect part resource kits for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT “1.0” (8527) and NXT 2.0 (8547).

Comparing MINDSTORMS NXT Sets by parts

Which edition of MINDSTORMS NXT you should buy totally depends on your preferences. The above summarizes the main differences in terms of the electrical components. For an overview and comparison in terms of building elements, click here. Note that the “Rsc. Kit” Column on that page only contains data from the “old” education resource kit (9648).

Color Sensor vs. Light Sensor

The Standard LEGO Light Sensor is present in the NXT 1.0 set and in the Education Base Set. This sensor measures light intensity only, reading a value between 0 (very dark) and 100 (very bright). The sensor has a LED Light that you can switch on and off. When off, you use the sensor to measure ambient light. When on, you use it to measure reflected light of a surface. This way, you can follow a dark line (black) on a light surface (white), because white results in a greater reflection of light, resulting in a higher sensor measurement. Similarly, a yellow surface typically reflects more light than a blue or green surface, but you cannot use the sensor to exactly distinguish colors.

Contrary, the NXT 2.0 set has a Color Sensor. When programmed in Light Sensor Mode, this sensor has the exact same functionality as described above. However, it can also be programmed in Color Sensor mode. When doing so, the sensor can detect 6 different colors: Black, White, Blue, Green, Yellow and Red. A third functionality of this device is Lamp Mode, where it functions as a basic light, optionally Red, Green or Blue.

If you are looking for an additional Light/Color sensor for your projects, consider that in some cases, the standard Light Sensor may be sufficient, and it is half the price of a Color Sensor.

NXT Rechargeable Battery Pack

The NXT can be powered using 6 standard AA batteries (either rechargeable or not). Alternatively, you can buy the rechargeable NXT compatible battery pack (and charger). This may be a bit of an investment at firsts, but the battery packs are useful in various ways. First, no more buying fresh batteries. Second, you can charge the battery pack while you use the NXT, say, while you’re testing programs. Finally, you can charge it in the NXT, there’s no more need to take your complete robot apart just to replace the batteries.

With the LEGO Rechargeable battery, your NXT will take up more space in your robots. (One extra module - but the connector holes are still accessible.)

Note that the battery pack will make your NXT Brick one LEGO module “thicker”, as shown in the illustration. Keep in mind that when using this (0r the new) battery, you can’t build all of the standard LEGO Robots like Alpha Rex, simply because there is no space for it. You can, of course, modify them to make them work.

Two rechargeable battery types exist for the NXT:

  • “Old” battery (grey colored, shown here):  LEGO catalog #9798, with charger: #9833
    (This charger is the same transformer as used with the 9V train system)
  • “New” battery (white colored): A newer, more powerful model: LEGO catalog #9693, with charger: #8887
    (This charger is the same transformer as used with the #8878 Power functions rechargeable box)

The NXT Education base set includes one battery and charger (you may want to check with your vender which battery is included!). If you wish to use the battery with your NXT “1.0” or NXT 2.0, you should buy it separately.

Upgrading Software “NXT 1.0” (8527) to “NXT 2.0” (8547)

The NXT 2.0 programming software is nearly the same as the software found in the NXT 1.0 set. However, the NXT 2.0 software has a few new features, and doesn’t crash as often. Since the NXT Intelligent brick is the same in all NXT sets, you can use the NXT 2.0 software with your LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT “1.0” set with no problems.

Once you’ve installed the new software, you must update the NXT firmware by navigating to “Tools”, and selecting “Upgrade NXT Firmware”. This is a harmless operation (and you could go back any time if you wish). To download and install the MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 software, visit the LEGO website using this link.

Regardless of whether you install the software as described above or from the CD that comes in the NXT 2.0 kit, you’ll need at least a system with the following specifications:

Microsoft Windows Requirements

  • Windows XP Professional or Home Edition with Service Pack 2 or newer
  • Intel Pentium processor or compatible, 800 MHz minimum (1.5 GHz or better recommended)
  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 or newer
  • Intel Pentium processor or compatible, 1 GHz minimum (1.5 GHz or better recommended)
  • CD-ROM drive

Apple Macintosh Requirements

  • Apple MacOS X v10.4 or v10.5
  • PowerPC G3, G4, G5 processor, 600 MHz minimum
  • Intel processor (1.3 GHz or better recommended)
  • DVD drive
  • You may require to install these patches

General System Requirements

  • 512MB of RAM minimum
  • 700MB of available hard-disk space
  • XGA display (1024×768)
  • 1 available USB port
  • Compatible Blue tooth adapter (optional)

Upgrading your NXT kit

LEGO does not officially sell upgrade packs for your NXT sets. Use the links in the set descriptions to find exactly which pieces you’ll need for an upgrade. There are various way to order separate pieces, but some third parties have done the searching for you and sell complete upgrade packs from NXT 1.0 to NXT 2.0.  Notice that this upgrade contains one Touch Sensor, but not a Color Sensor (for most projects, you could use your Light Sensor). Also, building elements will often be in different colors (see example). The same vendor also sells an NXT 2.0 to NXT 1.0 ‘downgrade’ package. Robot Square is not affiliated with this vendor, so please contact the vendor for further specifications.

Buying separate pieces

You can use the separate part overviews or the comparison page to determine element numbers. When you have found a list of elements that you need, you can visit bricklink.com to order each of these pieces. Notice that Bricklink is not one shop, but a collection of smaller shops by individuals who sell their LEGO pieces. This means that if you are trying to place a large order, you may have to order from different shops, which increases your total shipping cost. Usually it’s a good idea to order from a store within your own country to save on shipping.

You can also buy pieces from LEGO pick-a-brick. Note that they use a different element numbering system! You cannot use the part numbers found on the part lists found earlier in this article.

NXT Versions and MINDSTORMS NXT Books

When you buy one of the many instruction books about LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT or NXT 2.0, you should carefully check which NXT set is covered in the book. If you have an NXT 2.0 set and if you buy a book about “NXT 1.0”, you will not be able to build all of the robots described in the book, simply because you might not have all required LEGO pieces. Just the same, if you have an “NXT 1.0” set, an NXT 2.0 book might not work well for you.

In the case of NXT 2.0 books, you can usually find this information in the book title or book description. Older books usually just refer to “MINDSTORMS NXT”, because NXT 2.0 didn’t exist yet at the time of writing. Do a little research (on this page, for instance) before you buy and avoid disappointment.

NOTE: I did my very best to provide accurate and up to date information to this page, but there are no guarantees that there are no mistakes! If you find any inaccuracies, let me know so I can improve the article.

About the author

133 Responses
  1. Joc

    Thanks for this article. I will keep a link for future reference. Very helpful.

    One slight typo, about the 8547 you say “has no Touch Sensor, but instead it has two Touch Sensors”.

    I guess you meant Light Sensor?

    Thanks again. Joc

      1. Adam

        WOW!! Laurens!! :D, I bought your book, and read it 40 times! It’s awesome meeting an author, but Im having a little problem with my NXT, I got the 2.0 version, but I realized my NXT stopped playing sound, my volume is on 4, I tried reseting it, didn’t work. PLEASE HELP ME 🙁

      2. Ellen

        Hi Thanks for the overview.
        I’m looking to buy these for a class of 20. Suggested recommendations of how many set? 4 kids per set too many or too few?
        Kids 9-11

    1. Jason

      I’m in a nxt compitition and i was going to use a color sensor but i can’t seem to figure out how to program it could you help me out.

  2. Sam

    Hey, there are actually at least two revisions of the Education kit as well, and confusingly they have the same number. Kit 9797 “Lego Mindstorms NXT Education Base kit” produced since 2009 have 6 “Technic Beam 5 Bent 90 (3:3) with 4 Pins” whereas the older ones do not. I will compare the old and new ones to see if there are any other part discrepancies, but I only have a newer one available for the next couple of days.

    1. Wow, they’re pretty good at making plenty of different versions over at LEGO. Thanks for letting me know.

      Could it be that they also started including the new battery with this ‘new’ revision that you describe? Would it be right to assume that this list is the old NXT Edu set? — http://peeron.com/inv/sets/9797-1

      Adding in some extra parts isn’t so bad, but hopefully they did not remove any. If you find such case, I’d be interested to hear.

  3. About the 2 different versions of the Edu box (9797) there are actually more versions, since the all come included with an charger, but that one has to fit the local power outlets. unfortunately there is not a clear (or disclosed) marking on the box what version of charger / battery is in side.


  4. Tom


    Thanks for that, it was really helpful. I have NXT 2.0 but there was stuff I didn’t know in there. How do you download extra program blocks?

    For curiosity, how do you get a job with Mindstorms?

    Thanks, Tom

    1. Extra programming blocks for specific sensors are usually found at the website of the sensor manufacturer. Another good resource is this site:


      To load them into your NXT-G environment, go to tools and click in the “import/export block” wizard.

      A job with Mindstorms? Apply when they have vacancies I guess. Note that I do not work for Lego or Mindstorms. I do communicate with them on a frequent basis to discuss some Mindstorms stuff, but that’s not a paid job. When they pay, the currency is plastic!

  5. the NeXT freak

    just a tiny question. you can with the new Education NXT 2.0 set there everything to do with what you nxt 1.0 can do. because I want to buy it

      1. the NeXT freak

        can you as you have a NXT 2.0 and a new education resource set everything building what you can build with NXT 1.0 .

        1. You probably can’t build all of NXT 1.0 with that combination but it should be a good start. Compare for yourself — there’s links to parts list of each set. Time for some counting 🙂

  6. Ken S.

    Thanks for posting this – it’s very helpful. I purchased an NXT 2.0 recently, and while I’m happy with it for my own purposes … I recently saw the NXT-G education version screen, and the tutorials that come with it look great- I wish they were included in the ‘consumer’ version onf NXT-G. Do you know of any other differences between the two? I am getting a Lego-robotics program started @ my daughter’s school, and I plan on loaning my NXT brick and software to the class as we get up and running – but I’m now thinking that the education version with a site license might be the way to go. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Ken,

      The Education version of the software has better data logging capabilities and a dedicated interface. If you’re going to run the software on multiple computers then the education site license may be the most affordable way to go. If the school uses just your NXT 2.0 kit, I’d say it is fine to stick with the software that came with the kit. Unless you want to do a lot with data logging, there are not so many differences.

      Before purchasing future NXT kits, consider if you want to buy any LEGO NXT books. When you do, be sure to choose the right mix of books and NXT sets so you don’t end up searching for small parts afterwards.


      1. Ken S.

        Thanks for the quick reply!

        Just curious – I haven’t seen the data-logging difference documented anywhere – can you point me to specifics on this? I’ve been thinking about attempting a bot that will map it’s environment using the ultrasonic sensor – but I figure I’ll need a lot of storage for this….

        As for books – I very recently got your NXT 2.0 Discovery book, but quickly loaned it to the teacher I’ll be collaborating with on the class 🙁 But during the short while I had it, it was very useful – Thanks! I wish I could find all the NXT books at a store, so I could flip through them before making a purchase – not sure which ones will be best to support what we want to do at the school (starting with classes for ages 9-12, next year up to 14 years.) Suggestions?

        1. Hi Ken, I don’t know much about data logging with the education version (I don’t have it), but here’s a screenshot I found. But I’ve never needed it — and you could still do it with the standard software if you really wanted to.

          I think the Discovery Book could be a good fit. It’s been used frequently in classrooms before. If you want to use it effectively, make sure you have the right pieces to build with (NXT 2.0). When you buy retail kits, buying the NXT battery would be useful. Also, you’d have to invest in some plastic storage bins because the standard NXT 2.0 set doesn’t have any included. If you intend to teach primarily the basics of robot programming (building and programming a vehicle with sensors) then the standard NXT education kit may be fine, and you could still use the programming lessons from the book. It all depends on your goals in your classroom 🙂

    1. Education resource kit — much more value for your money. If, however, you specifically want to build NXT 1.0 models, you’d have to get that downgrade kit.

  7. Zeprazy

    Thanks for this article. I also read your book, I <3 it! I advice every NXT's beginners to read it!
    Good bye!
    *Returning to NXT robot building*

  8. Bernardo

    hey Valk, i’m your fan, congrats for building all this things, but I wanna know if I can find the lego educ. base set and the resourse set(9797 and 9695) in one of the legolands on U.S.A or in some other place than the lego educ. website (like toy stores around U.S.A) and just one more thing: are the educ. versions of mindstorms only for schools or a normal guy like Me can buy it whenever i want?

    1. I don’t know if you can get them outside the Education website. It’s fine to use that set at home, outside school. Just select the right set based on your preferences and build cool robots 🙂

  9. NXT man

    Hi, Laurens! Just wondering if there is any cheaper way toget the downgrade kit, possibly from something with LEGO.com?

    P.S. There’s a really old Mindstorms that used regular bricks. You should have mentioned that.

    P.P.S. I have your 2.0 discovery book

    1. NXT Man,

      LEGO.com does not have such kit so the short answer is no. You may be able to buy separate pieces for less money from the sites described, but it will be a bit more work.

      Good idea about the RCX. I’ll add a note about that.


  10. Robert

    Thank you for this very helpful information. Based on your article I just purchased an NXT 1.0 set. However, when I loaded the newest firmware onto the brick (version 1.31) the screen was completely blank. I know the brick is working because when I turn on the brick and push the buttons on the brick in the same order as another working brick that my friend brought over to my house to help me figure out this problem, the brick worked perfectly. For the record, we had the brick run one of its pre-loaded programs (the one under Try It where the sound sensor makes the motor turn). When we did this by pushing the appropriate buttons in the correct order, sure enough, everything worked.

    So it sure appears to me that the brick took the new firmware, but for some reason the screen is not displaying anything.

    Does anyone know if there is a way to adjust the contrast of the screen?

    I tried resetting the unit, but that did not help. I looked around online, but I could not find anything that discussed how to change the screen contract level. BTW, before I loaded the new firmware, the brick had been custom programmed using Java so I don’t know if that could be part of the problem. I just figured when I loaded the new firmware it erased everything on the brick and replaced it with this new firmware.

    1. Robert,

      Screen failure is a known problem for these NXT bricks. The fact that it happened at the same time of the firmware change is probably just coincidence. I believe it’s a bad electronic contact, which explains why the screen does come back for a few seconds sometimes.

      I recommend that you contact LEGO and ask for a replacement. They will usually ask you to send them the broken unit for inspection, after which you’ll receive a new one.


      1. Just adding a note here to those who come here via Google. The reader with the broken NXT unit has received a replacement for free.

        So if your NXT display stopped working (and everything else still works), call LEGO customer service for a replacement. It does not matter when or where you purchased your NXT.

    2. the NeXT freak

      The nxt’s are becoming increasingly worse, to me does not sound, the picture is not for you, this is still good?

    1. This question? Maybe… Seriously, though, if I did not want to answer comments, I shouldn’t have allowed comments in the first place. 🙂

  11. Sarah Parker

    Hi: My son has the NXT (Home 8547) set. He went to a LEGO NXT camp at the local University and they used the NXT Education (I think it was 9797). He would like to build these projects again but the sets are different. I have found a pretty good deal on a lightly used Education 9797 set- but it does not come with its software– I know that if I purchased one new, it would not come with the software either-
    Is the software between the two sets different? Would it be cheaper to but the parts and the software than the whole system?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Sarah,

      The software in each set are almost the same and are compatible. The education edition only includes some additional tools for the class room. For example, you can “Data Log”, for example to measure and log sensor data in a physics experiment. You don’t really need these additional tools.

      As described in the article you can also download the NXT 2.0 software. All NXT bricks are the same, so this software will work regardless of which NXT set you purchase (whether new, second handed, education or retail). Since you’re going to use the set at home, I think it’s okay to use this download. (It’s meant for NXT retail users who want to upgrade their software. Schools should still purchase licenses if they wish to use it.)


  12. Matt

    I’m trying to decide if I should buy the education kit or retail kit. Adding everything up, it seems that the education kit comes with almost 150 less items, than the retail kit. So, I’m wondering if there is another reason to get the education kit. With the price being about the same, why would I want to buy the education kit, if it limits what I can do with it?

    Also, I’m seeing many places out of stock and rumors of a new version being announced soon. Any ideas on this?

    1. The main reason would be the battery pack, though you can buy that separately if you want to. With the education resource kit you will have a lot of pieces.

  13. Elaine

    When I queried the LEGO education folk about deciding between NXT 2.0 retail and the education kit, they stated these as the major reasons to go with the education kit:

    “This set comes with a rechargeable battery, plastic specialized storage container and most importantly it comes with Robot Educator Software. This comes with 36 guided lessons, which teaches you how to manipulate your robot. We also use LabView programming software, which transitions into what real world engineers use today. The Education set is also the platform that is used in all JrFLL and First LEGO League teams. There are several pieces of software that you may add onto this set as your child advances into the programming c-based platforms.”

    Can you tell me anything about the Robot Educator software?

    Thank you

    1. Elaine,

      It’s good of you to ask LEGO Education. before buying. Indeed, there are some advantages to each set, and it all depends on the goals in the classroom.

      The choice for Education based on some of your points is valid. But if, for instance, you want to use one of the popular NXT 2.0 books as curriculum, the retail 2.0 set would be the way to go.

      The Retail set does not come with a battery pack. The Education set doesn’t come with software. It’s kind of a trade off. Both can be bought separately.

      Unfortunately, all of the following is not exactly true:

      “We also use LabView programming software, which transitions into what real world engineers use today. The Education set is also the platform that is used in all JrFLL and First LEGO League teams. There are several pieces of software that you may add onto this set as your child advances into the programming c-based platforms.””

      Neither the retail or NXT Education software are Labview. They’re -based- on Labview, but they’re far from real Labview. That’s not a problem, but it’s not a reason to choose Education set over retail. The software versions are nearly the same.

      First LEGO League teams may use the retail set if they want to. After all, it’s the same NXT brick and motors. There is no difference. There’s only a difference in LEGO elements included, but you can add onto these pieces with any LEGO set. Most teams do that.

      You can add C-Based software to both sets, because they come with the same NXT brick.

      The Robot Educator software (A.k.a NXT-G Education version) is nearly the same as the retail version. However, the Educator version includes some step-by-step instructions for getting started with the software.

      In addition, you can do Datalogging Experiments with the Educator software. This means you can connect a sensor to the NXT, like a temperature sensor and then plot a graph of the temperature on the screen.

      Remember that if you buy multiple NXT sets, you can always consider a mix between Retail and Education sets.



      1. Elaine

        I am actually amazed by what different answers I have gotten from LEGO retail and LEGO education to the exact same questions.

        The education branch told me:

        “The Retail kit was designed by LEGO for the everyday hobbyist. This set is an out of the box solution to building a robot and basic programming. It comes in a cardboard box. It uses alkaline batteries. It’s fun to play around with but not much more after that.”

        The retail people told me:
        “I would recommend purchasing the retail Mindstorms® NXT through our website at lego.com or in a LEGO® brand retail store. The Education branded Mindstorms set is intended more for in-school use and the software is much more expensive as there are licensing agreements involved. ”

        I am surprised at how different the answers are and am very grateful for your more straight forward information. I had simply asked for a chart comparing the various sets which I later found with your article.

        Thank you

        1. Now that is a perfect example of the ongoing internal ‘conflict’ between LEGO Education and LEGO Retail.

          I’m in touch with people in both divisions, and I still don’t understand why they are so divided. It has been this way for a long time. Fortunately the products they make are still excellent.

          Thanks for sharing your experiences here! I’m sure it’s very helpful to others who have the same questions.

  14. Andrew

    I am a teacher and thinking of using the lego mindstorms kits in my class. If we have the the education version of the NXT software at school, can students who have the commercial non-eduction version at home take their robots home and program them through their own computer. In other words is there a compatability issue?

    1. Hi Andrew,

      This is not a problem, because the programmable brick is the same in all versions of the set.

      If you experience any issues, it might be because the software versions require a slightly different version of the firmware on the brick. Should you encounter this, it’s very easy to update the firmware any time required. There’s no risk in doing this. Maybe if you install the latest version from the LEGO website, both softwares will work with it without updating every time.


  15. Dave Blankenship

    Fantastic website! I am a coach at our school for our FIRST®LEGO®league team and found all my answers right here. I have one copy of your LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Discovery Book that I loaned to a student and will be getting another for myself as it is a great resource. Keep it up!! Your work is much appreciated.

  16. D. T. Wu

    I am thinking of purchasing LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 (8547)(identify as Version A here)for my grandsons. On Amazon’s web site, there is another version , called LEGO 8547 Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Robotics Kit (identifyh as Version B here). Would you be so kind as to explain to me what is the difference between the two versions. From the descriptions, Version A also has a robotic kit. Is the robotic kit for Version B more extensive? Thanks.

    Should I purchase Version A or B?
    Can I upgrade to Version B by buying accessories.

    This is a wonderful site to learn about LEGO 8547 Mindstorms NXT 2.0


    1. Hi DTW,

      Good question. They are the same. “Version” B is the same as A, except it is sold by someone who tries to make some extra money over the confusion he creates by the different name.

      So this one [Click], is the one you need. Amazon seems to have a nice deal right now ($239 as opposed to $279).

      Best regards,


  17. Benoit

    Dear Laurens,

    Thanks for the very helpful article. I have ordered the NXT 2.0 set for my 10-year old daughter. She is planning on asking people to give her money for Christmas to pay for it, and I went ahead to get started during the holidays. She first wanted to do this for an iPod touch but after going to a few meetings of the robotics club at school, she decided that robots are more interesting, and I can only encourage her in that.

    From what I read, the documentation with the kit is quite minimal, and your books seem to be the best out there. I am wondering how they compare and which one would be more appropriate for a beginner 10 year old with a 40-something dad who is not an engineer or computer programmer? I could not find any direct comparison of them.



    1. Hi Benoit,

      Thanks for your comment. I am biased of course, but I recommend the NXT 2.0 Discovery Book for you two.

      It guides you through the set, with no prior programming experience required. Building and programming are mixed, to keep it interesting. Exercises “Discoveries” help you practice the newly learned programming techniques.

      Hope this helps.



  18. Aakash

    Hi Laurens,

    Your article really helped in clearing up a lot of confusion that I had, regarding the different versions and sets.

    There is just one thing. I too happen to have got a Education set (9797). However it has 437 pieces, and it does not have a charger, contrary to the details you have mentioned above. Could it probably be that Lego has come up with yet another version of the 9797 set?

    Thank you.

    1. The charger does not come in the plastic box because of different versions across countries. But I thought that the set generally came with a charger packed separately. Apparently then this is not always the case.

      I will update the article – sorry for the inconvenience.


  19. Dawn

    Thank you VERY much for your website. I homeschool my 9 year-old son, and I had several concerns about spending more than our usual birthday budget without enough information. I now know which set we want for our particular interests and needs, that we can use any set items for robotics competitions in the future (should we decide to do that), what additional items we need to purchase asap but not necessarily immediately, and after reading reviews of your book on Amazon, I am confident that we can do this on our own with your beginner book.I cannot thank you enough for your informative website! Lego should pay you, because you are the reason we are going ahead with this purchase. The information they provide on thier retail and education websites is useless for the layperson to understand what they are buying. Happy holidays! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Dawn, glad I could help.

      In case you’re getting the NXT 2.0 set from Amazon, you can do so by clicking on the NXT 2.0 box on this page to go to Amazon before you buy. It won’t cost you anything extra, but it helps me pay for costs to keep this website running 🙂

      My book will work best with the NXT 2.0 set.

      Happy holidays to you too!


  20. Paul

    Happy New Year Laurens ! and thank you so much for maintaining such valuable NXT wealth of resources and tutorials. With my son we are already big fans of your Discovery NXT 2.0 book.

    We’ve recently bought an NXT 2.0 kit and wondering if the color sensor is functioning properly when in light sensing mode… We are using it on port 3 with View ambient & reflected light commands directly from the NXT brick. The display, however, remains at 100% no matter what we do (expose the sensor to a dark or to a light environment etc). Could it be that the View command from NXT is only compatible with the simple light sensor from NXT 1.0 and won’t work with the Color sensor or is our color sensor broken?

    1. Hi Paul,

      Glad to hear you and your son are having fun with my book.

      The View menu on the brick cannot display the ambient/reflected light from the color sensor. The options you see there are for the old NXT “1.0” light sensor as you correctly state. The good news is that your sensor is probably fine, and you can read the sensor with the programming software instead 🙂

      If you skip ahead to page 142 in my book, you’ll find a way to do this with feedback boxes. They display the sensor values in the NXT software (The NXT must be connected to the computer with USB or Bluetooth in order to see these values).

      Later in the third part of the book, you’ll also see how you can display values on the screen so you can make your own custom “view mode” programs.


      1. Paul

        That was very helpful, thank you Laurens. Yes, we tried yesterday the “programmed way” of reading the feedback from the color sensor and it worked. We were a bit puzzled why the View mode did not produce the same feedback on NXT brick’s screen but your reply explains it.

  21. Ken

    Hello. I have just purchased both the Retail 8547 and the Education 9797 sets for my sons. Is it possible to load both versions of the NXT software 2.0 and 2.1 onto one computer? I would like to do that to take advantage of the benefits of each program.

    1. Yes, that’s possible.

      However, since the software versions are almost the same, I recommend that you just install 2.1. You can program both of your NXTs with it, since they’re the same.

      This way, you don’t have to switch back and forth between these versions.

  22. Daniel

    I have a question. If you have an NXT 1.0 set, can you use NXT 2.0 parts? For example, could I upgrade the firmware and software and then be able to plug in the new color sensor? How, if at all, could I do this? Thanks in advance! Please help!

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  25. Harry

    Forgive me if this has been addressed, or if it is merely ignorant. Are the Technics pieces the same as the Mindstorm pieces (or are there other kits or themes that use Mindstorm pieces)? I was thinking that it might be less expensive to pick up some used connectors and bricks if they weren’t branded with the Mindstorm or NXT label.

    1. Hi Harry,

      The elements in the MINDSTORMS kit are just LEGO TECHNIC elements, so you can expand your MINDSTORMS collection with any TECHNIC set you like.

      You can even combine MINDSTORMS with Power Functions motors if you get some additional sensor devices (HiTechnic IRLink).



  26. PC Yeoh

    Hi Laurens,

    This articles is very useful and I learnt a lot from it. I am in the middle of considering whether to get retail or education base. Not sure what is your advice. The other questions is about the rechargeable battery pack that come with Education Base set. Does it come with charger adaptor? I am currently relocate to US for a temporary assignment. But I will be heading back to my home country in a year time. The power outlet is different. Do you know if the charger adaptor accept input voltage of 110V – 220V?



    1. Hi PC,

      I don’t normally make recommendations – it’s really going to be up to you, depending on your plans with MINDSTORMS.

      I just wanted to point out, though, that there’s a new MINDSTORMS coming out that will replace NXT. It’s MINDSTORMS EV3 – check the blog main page for more. You might want to wait for that to come out.


      1. PC Yeoh

        Do you have the EV3 similar article or info about different package or version that going to release to market?

        Personally I feel that NXT2.0 retail is more interesting. But however most of the education center is using Base Set 9797. So if I am sending my kids to one of this center, is that means I should get 9797 better??

    2. One of my chargers supports both 110/230V (The new charger for the white battery), but I also have one that’s for 230V only (older type). Just be sure to ask the seller when you order.

  27. Angie

    Thank you for the article. I have long debated over retail vs education. As my FIRST team moves up from JrFLL this year to FLL next, we will need to purchase a NXT set. Of course now I have to weigh in EV3. It looks to me, if we go NXT, that it would be more affordable to go retail and buy the charger as an add on. Any pieces we would be missing, we already have in our JrFLL kit.

  28. PC Yeoh

    Hi Laurens,

    I am new in this NXT2.0. It was to my surprise to see those bricks and parts from the box. Do you have any advice or recommendation on how you can store those parts or at least keep them organize? I believe the Education base set does come with a storage box but not the retail set. What kind of storage best fit those bricks and electronic parts?

  29. Lee A.

    I’ve tried to diligently read all comments above, but I don’t see the answer to my problem. I have a NXT 2.0 (from a Lego store) and will be starting a FIRST LEGO League team of 10 yr olds this summer to prepare for Fall 2013. The FLL website states the NXT 2.0 retail version is different from the FLL store’s NXT 2.0 Robot Set With DC Battery kit. Do you have any idea what’s different?

    I REALLY don’t want to purchase a new NXT 2.0 from FLL. Especially, since I think we will need to get the FLL Green City Challenge Combo set ($299) to practice with this summer. That includes two sets of three training mats, two challenge field mats, a series of activities, and 1,300+ LEGO® bricks. (Of course that might be over the top for my little team.)

    OR would you recommend I purchase an Education kit of LEGO parts and pieces to supplement my NXT 2.0 retail store version?

    Thanks for your time! (I’ve already used your link to purchase the Discovery book!)

    1. Hi Lee,

      Thanks for visiting this page. First off, there’s really only one NXT intelligent brick. Whatever NXT version they sell, the difference will be in building elements and how many sensors and accessories are included. I didn’t find the exact set you’re referring to, but I think the following applies.

      Your retail set didn’t contain a rechargeable battery, but you can buy it separately. You can always just use regular batteries (whether rechargeable or not). Please do check the rules & regulations on this though, I do not have direct experience with FLL. The NXT 2.0 set also doesn’t include a Sound sensor, but I doubt that this sensor is of much use in (noisy) FLL environments anyway.

      For FLL, additional elements is probably a good idea. The resource set listed on this page is probably a good start ($80-$100 I think). I don’t have the inventory list of the Green City challenge. If you do, you can compare it to the resource sets on this page.

      Since these parts packs are just regular LEGO TECHNIC pieces, they are also compatible with EV3, should you decide to upgrade in the future.

  30. Clayton

    Hi Laurens,

    I am using the Education version of the NXT and have recently added a Technic Colour Sensor. I have been building a colour sorter, and have found a program online for the programming to use with my students. However, when I test the colour sensor, it is only reading black. It won’t pick up on any other colour. How do I get the sensor to read other colours and thus be able to use the program to sort the different coloured bricks?

  31. Kelly Klingbeil

    I teach a 6th grade robotics class with the Education Base Sets (#9797) that were purchased in 2012. As a challenge to some of my more advanced students, I would like to find some bonus models that utilize the pieces in the kits we have. The ones listed on this site (http://robotsquare.com/2012/03/03/tutorial-official-bonus-models/) are fantastic but we cannot build them since there are so many different pieces in the #8547 kit. Does anyone know of any sources for challenging models for the #9797 kit. Thank you!

  32. GUORUI

    Hi, everyone
    I’ve heard there are two versions of set 9797 long ago, one with NXT 1.0 and the other with NXT 2.0, but there came out a NXT Edu, I am seriously confusing, could you tell me if there are two versions? If not, NXT Edu and NXT 2.0 which is more powfull? Thanks a lot!

    1. There isn’t an ‘NXT 1.0 brick’ or ‘NXT 2.0 brick’. They are the same. There exist three NXT sets (9797, 8527, 8547) each of which has the same NXT brick. They just come with a different set of sensors and LEGO elements. As always, pick the one with the parts selection that suits you best.

      But if you’re looking at buying LEGO MINDSTORMS, I’d recommend to wait for EV3 which will come out this summer.

      1. GUORUI

        Thank you very much, I was bothered by this for a long time. I kown the new EV3 is coming soon, so, is the hardware greatly upgraded, I mean the RAM or CPU stuff?

          1. PC

            Yes Laurens, I am looking forward to for such article for EV3. Please as soon as possible 🙂



    I am planning to buy an EV3 and a NXT mdl for school use. Although EV3 is a newer version, I have researched that there are more books, curriculum, and websites available for NXT. What is your suggestion?

    1. That is true, but that is because EV3 is new. New books will come out, and new web articles and tutorials will be written eventually.

      If you do not have any NXTs yet, I recommend to purchase only EV3. It would be much easier to learn just one system, both for you and the students.

      If you already have some NXT sets, you may want to consider to stay with NXT for a while longer.

  34. Adnan

    Hello Laurens,
    i want to ask something about EV3 software
    1) If i purchase software (single license) for education set then can i install it on different PC’s or Laptops for different EV3′s
    2) If these PC’s are connected to internet then will this software works ?
    3) Is there any possibility that i can program EV3 using NXC programming as i programmed my NXT 2.0 brick using NXC programming

    1. For (1, 2), you probably can technically, but you’ll have to refer to your license to see if it’s legal.

      (3) Not yet, but the designer of NXC is already working on a new NXC-style language for EV3.

  35. Chrsi

    Hi Lauren,
    I had to tell you. I’ve already picked up lots of info just by reading thru this page of comments. Gonna try purchasing your NXT Discover book too. Thanks.
    I’ve bought the NXT 1.0 & NXT 2.0 years ago, but never got a chance to power the brick up until now cuz my boy just turned 8. i found out one of them had a bad LCD screen which i’m gonna try to contact Lego soon.
    Should i get the new EV3, or are my 2 NXTs plenty for us to mess with right now since we’re completely new to this robotic thing?

    1. Your two NXT sets are fine. Start off with the Discovery Book, and by the time you’ll reach the end of the book, you may want to try to use the two NXTs together for even bigger robots.

      LEGO is aware of the broken LCD issue, and they’ll probably send you a replacement if you contact them.

  36. Susan

    We have Lego Mindstorms 1.0. If we purchase the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education NXT Resource Set (2.0) and the new color sensor (and upgrade the software to 2.0), we’ll essentially have a Lego Mindstorms 2.0 kit?

  37. Lama-mantis

    I heard that the UltraSonic sensor in the first kit uses another sound frequention than the UltraSonic in the 2.0 kit. Is that correct?

  38. Lama-mantis

    I’ve a question.
    I want to make my MINDSTORMS collection bigger with a new set. I’ve already the NXT 2.0 Home set.
    I want to buy the NXT Education set. There are my questions about.

    Can the two NXTs communicate with each other?

    Can I program the NXT from the Edu set with the software from the NXT 2.0 set?

    What’s the average prize of the Edu set?

    I hope you can help!

  39. vivekanand goud

    my lego nxt 8527 brick was not working i am replace the new batteries still it doesn’t get the power on by pressing orange color button
    please help me to get my device on .

    thank you …

  40. Sandra D

    Hello wonder if you could help.
    I have the 8527 kit. But I never really used it when I bought it. Recently I decided to pull it out and have another go with it but the 1.1 disk won’t work on my new laptop,windows 8, so I downloaded the 2.0 version from the website.
    Is there a way to get the 8527 instructions that are embedded in the 1.1 disk onto the 2.0 software?

    Thanks in advance

  41. Lauren W.

    Hey. I’m using the NXT sound sensor for an EV3 kit. I know it works but will it be able to detect different words and stuff?

  42. Lauren W.

    Hey. I’m using an NXT sound sensor for an EV3 kit. I know that it will work but can the sound sensor detect different words to make different actions?

    1. Clayton

      No the sound sensor doesn’t distinguish between types of sounds, it just determines the level of sound intensity (measured in decibels). It will measure whether a sound is loud or soft based on the threshold that you set for it. So say you set a threshold of 55dB then any sound it picks up below that will be considered no sound, and anything above that will be considered a sound event and the action associated with that will take place in your program.

      Depending on how many types of actions you want to take, you may be able to use a switch block in your programming to set different thresholds for different actions.

      Hope that helps.

  43. Catherine


    Can the sound sensor be used with the 8547 model? Any adjustments need to be made, eg, software?

    Many thanks.


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