Abstract Background Whole exome sequencing (WES) has been widely used in human genetics research. BGISEQ-500 is a recently established next-generation sequencing platform. However, the performance of BGISEQ-500 on WES is not well studied. In this study, we evaluated the performance of BGISEQ-500 on WES by side-to-side comparison with Hiseq4000, on well-characterized human sample NA12878. Results BGISEQ demonstrated similarly high reproducibility as Hiseq for variation detection. Also, the SNVs from BGISEQ data is highly consistent with Hiseq results (concordance 96.5%~ 97%). Variation detection accuracy was subsequently evaluated with data from the genome in a bottle project as the benchmark. Both platforms showed similar sensitivity and precision in SNV detection. While in indel detection, BGISEQ showed slightly higher sensitivity and lower precision. The impact of sequence depth and read length on variation detection accuracy was further analyzed, and showed that variation detection sensitivity still increasing when the sequence depth is larger than 100x, and the impact of read length is minor when using 100x data. Conclusions This study suggested that BGISEQ-500 is a qualified sequencing platform for WES.