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Zyxel NWA130BE Access Point Review (vs. WBE660S): Wi-Fi 7 Upgrade Made Affordable

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If you’re thinking of upgrading your home or office to Wi-Fi 7 but have been taken aback by the WBE660S‘s cost and large physical size, the NWA130BE BE11000 Wi-Fi 7 Triple-Radio NebulaFlex Access Point, first announced on March 4, 2024, would be the answer.

Each of these Wi-Fi 7 access points can work as a standalone broadcaster via local web-based management or as part of a cloud-based Nebula system. This review looks at the NWA130BE primarily as the former role.

In more ways than one, the new AP is a mini version of its older and more potent cousin. Still, at less than a third of the cost—its current street price is around $180—the NWA130BE is an excellent and easy way to upgrade a network to Wi-Fi 7. Consider one today!

Dong’s note: I first published this post as a preview on March 4, 2024, and updated it to an in-depth review after weeklong hands-on testing.

Zyxel NWA130BE and its retail box
The new Zyxel NWA130BE is a standard Wi-Fi 7 access point.

Zyxel NWA130BE: A sensible Wi-Fi 7 access point

The reason for the significantly lower cost is the hardware. The NWA130BE is modest in Wi-Fi specs, featuring the 2×2 tier of the new standard or half the bandwidth of the older model. It also has the entry-level Multi-Gig Ethernet, 2.5Gbps, to match.

But before you get disappointed, 2×2 Wi-Fi 7 is plenty fast, and generally, the specs of the receiving end. Like the case of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, so far, we’ve had only 2×2 Wi-Fi 7 clients.

That is, in terms of real-world Wi-Fi speed on a single device, the new NWA130BE is likely similar to the much more expensive WBE660S, which has double the bandwidth.

Physically, the new two APs share the same design—both are rectangle boxes with curved corners—but the NWA130BE is just about half the volume of the WBE660S. So, yes, the new access point is very much the mini version of the older model.

The table below shows the hardware specs of the two.

Zyxel NWA130BE vs. WBE660S the former is significantly smallerZyxel NWA130BE vs. WBE660S ports
Zyxel NWA130BE vs. WBE660S: Both share the same rectangle shape, but the former is significantly smaller, with ports located on one of its length sides instead of its width. It also uses a traditional round power port instead of the newer USB-C port.

Zyxel NWA130BE vs. WBE660S: Hardware specifications

Zyxel NWA130BE Wi-Fi 7 Access Point MountedZyxel WBE660S
NameNWA130BE BE11000 Wi-Fi 7 Triple-Radio NebulaFlex Access PointZyxel WBE660S BE22000 Wi-Fi 7 Triple-Radio NebulaFlex Pro Access Point
ModelNWA130BEWBE660S
Wi-Fi StandardsTri-band BE11000Tri-band BE22000
Broadcasting PowerUS (2.4GHz/5GHz/6GHz): 29/28/23dBm
 EU (2.4GHz/5GHz/6GHz): 19/25/22dBm
6 GHz Speeds
(channel width)
2×2 BE: Up to 5765 Mbps
(20/40/80/160/320MHz)
4×4 BE: Up to 11530 Mbps
(20/40/80/160/320MHz)
5 GHz Speeds
(channel width)
2×2 BE: Up to 4323 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4×4 BE: Up to 8646 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2.4 GH Speeds
(channel with)
2×2 BE: Up to 688 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4×4 BE: Up to 1376 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
Number of SSIDs8
(single or multiple bands)
Operating ModeStandalone or via
Controller/Nebula Cloud-managed
(Nebula account required)
Roaming StandardPre-authentication, PMK caching and 802.11r/k/v
Backward Compatibility802.11/axe/ax/ac/n/g/a/b
Power over Ethernet (PoE)802.11at (PoE+)802.11bt (PoE++)
PoE Power DrawTBD41W
Injector IndudedNo
DC inputDC 12 VUSB PD 15 VDC 3 A
(USB-C port)
Adapter IncludedNo
Multi-Gig port1 x 2.5GBASE-T PoE+ (uplink)
1 x 2.5GBASE-T PoE+ (1 x 2.5GBASE-T PoE+ (uplink) )
1 x 10GBASE-T PoE++ LAN (uplink)
Gigabit Portnone1 x 1 Gbps LAN (1 x 2.5GBASE-T PoE+ (uplink) )
Wireless Security MethodsWEP/WPA/WPA2-PSK/WPA3
AuthenticationIEEE 802.1X/RADIUS
Access ManagementL2-isolation/MAC filtering/Rogue AP detection
Mobile AppZyxel Nebula
Dimensions (W x D x H)TBD12.21 x 7.01 x 2.21 in
(310 x 178 x 56 mm)
WeightTBD3.11 lbs (1412 g)
ProcessorQualcomm 4-Core CPU
Operating EnvironmentTemperature: 0°C to 45°C/32°F to 113°F
Humidity: 10% to 90% (non-condensing)
Release DateMarch 4, 2024October 17, 2023
WarrantyLifetime
US Price
(at launch)
$179.99$599.99
Hardware specifications: Zyxel NWA130BE vs. WBE660S
Zyxel NWA130BE TopZyxel NWA130BE underside
The top and underside of the Zyxel NWA130BE Wi-Fi 7 access point.

No injector or power adapter is included

The NWA130BE allows for an easy path to upgrade an existing network to Wi-Fi 7. Specifically, if you have a non-Wi-Fi router or one of an older standard, a single unit of the NWA130BE will turn the system Wi-Fi 7-ready.

Before that, though, it’s worth noting that the new AP doesn’t include a power adapter or PoE injector. Instead, you need a PoE+ (802.3at) switch— the Zyxel XS1930-12HP or the newly announced XMG1915 Series—to use it. Or a single standard PoE+ injector will do as long as it features 2.5Gbps ports. The support for 8023at means you won’t need to invest in the top-tier PoE++ equipment.

Alternatively, you can find a standard DC 12 V adapter to power it, though that’s not ideal, considering this is a piece of hardware designed for wall or ceiling mounting.

While it’s disappointing that no power adapter or PoE injector is included, that’s generally the case with most business access points.

A standard Wi-Fi 7 access point

As a Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster, the NWA130BE features extra-wide 320MHz channels and 4K QAM. It also includes Multiple Link Operation (MLO) and, per Zyxel, has an RF-first Design—it incorporates an advanced RF filter to eliminate interference between 5GHz and 6GHz bands and a 4G/5G interference filter to assure seamless coexistence with 4G/5G cellular networks.

Like the WBE660S, the NWA130BE has two management options: the built-in web-based user interface and the Nebula cloud-based portal. Unless you have multiple units and want to use them as a system, the former is generally ideal. It fits most cases where a single unit is enough regarding coverage, and it’s also the case I used to test most access points.

Nebula comes in two flavors: free and Pro. The latter requires a 39.99/year per device subscription, though the former is more than enough for any home or small business.

Zyxel NWA130BE Wi Fi SSIDsZyxel NWA130BE Wi Fi Settings
The NWA130BE has a standard local web user interface, common among Zyxel access points, with lots of customization and Wi-Fi settings.

Self-explanatory local web user interface with lots of settings

To set up the NWA130BE, you first need to connect it to the network via an injector or a PoE+ switch. After that, navigate a browser on a network computer to its IP address, and the rest is self-explanatory.

Like all APs, the NWA130BE’s local IP address is given out by your router—it’s static like the case of a router. Still, as described in this post on the IP address, it’s relatively easy to find a connected device’s local IP.

In my case, as shown in the screenshots, the NWA130BE uses the 192.168.88.1900 address—yours will vary. The AP’s default password for the admin account is 1234, which you’ll need to change the first time you log in.

Once logged in, you’ll be greeted by a standard yet comprehensive menu-based web interface with many settings. The APs can handle up to eight SSIDs. You can use each for one, two, or all three of its bands and customize them with in-depth Wi-Fi settings. In most cases, you only need three SSIDs.

And after that, you can leave the rest alone. The Wi-Fi network is now ready.

The Zyxel NWA130BE Wi-Fi 7 Access Point in action
Here’s the Zyxel NWA130BE Wi-Fi 7 Access Point being tested.

Zyxel NWA130BE: Reliable performance

I tested the Zyxel NWA130BE for over a week and was generally happy with its performance.

The AP’s range was similar to that of the WBE660S, but its sustained rates were clearly lower due to the modest Wi-Fi specs. That said, a single unit can generally cover about 2000 ft2 (186 m2) with decent Wi-Fi performance throughput, but your mileage will vary. It also passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection.

Zyxel NWA130BE Wi Fi Long Range PerformanceZyxel NWA130BE Wi Fi Close Range Performance
Zyxel NWA130BE’s wireless performance when hosting clients of different Wi-Fi standards.

In terms of throughput speeds, the NWA130BE’s sustained rates are in the low Gig+ range—between 1Gbps and 1.5Gbps—even at relatively short distances. It was plenty fast but below the average among Wi-Fi 7 broadcasters I’ve tested. Further out, the rates were consistently reduced to below Gigabit, as shown on the charts.

Since this is the first access point with two Multi-Gig ports, I also tested these ports’ wired performance, and they performed as expected, sustaining at over 2200Mbps or the general speeds of 2.5Gbps after overhead.

Zyxel NWA130BE Multi Gig Wired Performance
Zyxel NWA130BE’s Multi-Gig wired performance.

Other than that, the Zyxel NWA130BE ran completely silent and procured very little heat, even during extended heavy operations.

Zyxel NWA130BE Wi-Fi 7 Access Point's Rating

8 out of 10
PXL 20240314 010820895
Performance
7.5 out of 10
Features
8 out of 10
Design and Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 7 support with reliable Gigabit-class performance; good coverage coverage

Dual 2.5Gbps ports

Compact, mount-ready design; full local web user interface; generous free-tier cloud-based management

Cons

No power adapter or PoE injector included

Mid-range Wi-Fi 7 specs

Conclusion

The Zyxel NWA130BE BE11000 Wi-Fi 7 Triple-Radio NebulaFlex Access Point doesn’t have anything earth-shattering. It’s a mid-tier Wi-Fi 7 access point that gets the job done.

However, at less than $180, it is an excellent upgrade for those wanting to move to Wi-Fi 7 without digging a hole in their wallet while keeping their existing network largely intact.

And that’s a good thing. Consider one today!

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10 thoughts on “Zyxel NWA130BE Access Point Review (vs. WBE660S): Wi-Fi 7 Upgrade Made Affordable”

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  1. I have an outhouse 9 meters away from my main residence and I am thinking of getting 2 of those and use them in mesh mode, do you think this router will be enough?

    Reply
  2. Just curious Dong, may I ask what are the clients of different Wi-Fi standards you used for testing?

    Also do you mind sharing the floor plan or house/office layout of your testing environment (10ft & 40 ft)?

    Thanks

    Reply
  3. For a 4-level townhome with a centralized wiring closet with cat6 to each floor, and 2gbps internet service, would you recommend two Zyxel NWA130BE or WBE660S (with a separate network outer and POE switch) or two of the TP-Link Deco BE85, placed on the first and third floor? I guess my question boils down to, for optimal home multi floor wireless coverage, do wireless routers marketed as mesh systems have advantages over wireless access points? I understand some wireless points can be configured to operate in a mesh configuration, but this functionality is almost never reviewed, and it is unclear to me whether WIFI7/6E wireless products marketed as mesh systems have unique throughput-enhancing or coverage-enhancing features that WIFI7/6E access points do not.

    Reply
      • I ask because the product datasheet for the WBE660S indicates it “DCS” and “load balancing” and “Fast roaming Pre-authentication, PMK caching and 802.11r/k/v.” And it states:

        “The WBE660S ensures an optimized wireless experience for users with a range of wireless features such as Dynamic Channel Selection (DCS), Load Balancing and Smart Client Steering. DCS minimizes the interference of co-channel and overlapping channels. Load Balancing enables administrators to set limits on the number of clients associated with each AP. Furthermore, Smart Client Steering features with Band Select, Signal Threshold and Band Balancing combine to deliver stable, reliable wireless connections. Band Select and Signal Threshold monitor the capabilities of each wireless client and steer them to the less-congested band and AP with better signals. Band Balancing detects dual-radio and triple-radio clients and distributes clients across 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands on AP. All of these deliver a smooth, consistent and uninterrupted wireless experience to its users. ”

        I see similar statements in the marketing materials for some products you list in your multi-gigabit router article, which suggests that these access points may provide similar functionality.

        Reply
        • They all do have those function, but the implementation depends on the system you use. Generally, enterprise/business class gives you more in-depth control but you’ll need to know before you can set it up. Home devices tend to do that for you but the effect is hit or miss. It’s not as simple as turning things on or off. Follow the links in my previous reply fore more. And this post on Wi-Fi settings will further explain stuff. There’s no quick or easy answer and if you take marketing language as truth or the base of your expectation, you’ll be disappointed.

          Reply

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