Understanding IQ 1st Generation vs. 2nd Generation

Introducing VEX IQ (2nd Generation)

The VEX IQ system was launched in 2012 to give younger students an opportunity to participate in robotics. The IQ system allows students to build and design a variety of robotic solutions without the need of any tools. The 2nd generation of the IQ system improves on the previous system while offering backward and forward compatibility with parts as well as electronics. This article will dive into the differences between the different generations of kits, and elaborate on this chart of differences found here.


The following table shows compatibility for IQ 1st Generation parts (background in pink) as well as IQ 2nd Generation parts (background in white).

Component 1st Generation 2nd Generation



The 1st and 2nd Generation batteries use different chargers. The 1st Generation Battery Chargers will not harm or charge the 2nd generation batteries.
















The 2nd Generation charger, controller, and brain connect via USB-C.











Key Differences

The biggest difference between VEX IQ 1st generation and 2nd generation is the system's microcontroller (called the Brain). There are also differences and similarities with the Batteries, Controller, sensors, and Kit contents.

The Brain


The (2nd Generation) Brain offers some significant upgrades that include: a color screen, a built-in 6-axis inertial sensor, improved wireless connectivity, improved: CPU, Ram, and Flash; and a Micro SD card slot, among other things.

image20.png IQ 1st Generation Brain

image9.png IQ 2nd Generation Brain


Since the 2nd Generation brain offers improved hardware performance, it can execute programs written in Python and C++ using VEXcode, unlike the 1st Generation brain. Both brains are still programmable in VEXcode using blocks, the user just has to denote which brain is being used in VEXcode (image left). With the 2nd Generation brain, updates are now built into VEXcode, rather than having to use the VEXos Firmware Utility. The addition of an improved, internal 6-axis (vs. 1-axis external with 1st Generation) inertial sensor allows greater options in programming without having to attach sensors manually. It is also able to utilize the catalog of 1st Generation sensors, since they all use the same connection.


Batteries for the first and second generation are both 7.2v and 2,000 mAh. The newest batteries are now made with Li-ion instead of NiMh. Using lithium ion batteries instead of nickel metal hydride ensures batteries will maintain their voltage longer (about 5x longer without slowing down!). While both batteries have the same capacity, they do not discharge the same way. NiMh batteries’ voltage tends to wane toward the end of their charge, causing motors to slow down for example. 2nd Generation batteries also now have the LED battery level indicator, and use a USB-C charger but can be charged on a 1st Generation charger.

image15.pngIQ 1st Generation Battery

image25.pngIQ 2nd Generation Battery


The 2nd Generation controllers offer three major improvements: two extra buttons (joystick “click” buttons when you press either of the joysticks in), USB-C connection for charging and communication (unlike 1st Generation), and built-in Bluetooth 5.0.

The 2nd Generation controllers are easier to pair with the brain. No cable is needed to pair and everything is done through the menu on the brain.

image10.pngIQ 1st Generation Controller

image30.pngIQ 2nd Generation Controller

IQ Kit Comparisons

IQ Super Kit (1st Generation) vs. IQ Education Kit (2nd Generation) and IQ Competition Kit (2nd Generation)

The major difference between electronic kit contents is that the Super Kit and Education Kit contain 4 motors, while the Competition Kit contains 6 motors. The Super Kit contains 2 Touch LED and Bumpers, while the Education and Competition only contains 1 each. Lastly, the 2nd Generation Kits include the newly produced Pin Tool, which will make the removal of pins much easier!


VEX IQ has always been available in kits, providing an array of parts to allow many creations. Previous kits came in a large bin with a tray. The Super Kit contains 787 parts.


The new 2nd Generation Education Kit comes with two smaller bins with organized parts trays. The Education Kit contains 1052 parts.


The Competition Kit comes with four bins with organized part trays. The Competition Kit contains 1773 parts.

If you have any additional questions, please refer to the IQ FAQ article.


For more information, help, and tips, check out the many resources at VEX Professional Development Plus