Earlier in the year, I had the chance to review the Beacon 1 from Nokia coming away quite impressed with the performance and overall low cost making it a solid entry-level solution.
Beacon 3 is Nokia's first Wi-Fi system and current flagship offering. This system uses the same application-based setup and management solution as the Beacon 1, available on iOS and Android platforms. It also offers a browser-based management solution called Nokia Wi-Fi Portal which allows you to manage your network remotely.
Hardware for the Beacon 3 is a bit more substantial and includes the Broadcom BCM68460 paired with Micron DDR3 and MXIC Flash for the OS. As for radios we have the BCM4363 for the 2.4GHz and BCM4366 for the 5GHz; This gives the Beacon 3 450Mbps capabilities for long range 2.4GHz and 2100 Mbps for the high speed 5GHz band. Also included are three RJ45 port for Gigabit LAN and a single WAN.
MSRP of the Nokia Beacon 3 comes in at $199.99 for a single node and $449.99 for the Trio. Warranty is listed at one-year.
Nokia Beacon 3
Packaging and a Closer Look
Packaging is clean and modern for the Beacon 3 just as it was for Beacon1. We have an image of the three nodes on the front with branding at the top.
Each node is packed in its own slot preventing them from touching in shipping.
Scope of delivery includes the node, power adapter and ethernet cable, all following the white colorway of the node.
The overall design of the Beacon 3 is much more substantial than Beacon 1 including weight.
On the backside, we have three LAN in yellow with one WAN in blue. Power sits below with a standard barrel connection.
Test System Setup and Web Management
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z370 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i3 8350K (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4x8GB DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro H115i (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Corsair Air 540 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
- Wi-Fi NIC: ASUS PCE-AC88 (buy from Amazon)
- 10Gbe NIC: ASUS XG-C100C (buy from Amazon)
- Thunderbolt 3: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
Setup is run through the Nokia Wi-Fi app seen above on my iPhone XR.
Setup starts as it most often does, by plugging in the Beacon units.
After running through setup using the QR Code your Beacon 3 unit should be ready to go.
As stated with the Beacon 1, if you purchase the Trio all three nodes are pre-paired so all you have to do is plug them in once the main unit is setup. Seen above, the dashboard offers insight into attached devices and their location above based on signal rate.
Moving to the side menu, you can view devices, enable guest access and add beacons.
In the settings menu, you can modify the SSID and Wi-Fi settings along with control device access.
Performance Testing and Final Thoughts
2.4GHz performance was slightly better with the Beacon 3, offering 94Mbps.
Moving to 5GHz performance we see a jump between the Beacon 1 and 3. The 3 offering a peak of 600Mbps with a backhaul of 748Mbps between units.
Moving into mobile testing, I have the Beacon 3, Beacon 1 and several others in the charts for comparison. The Beacon 3 starts well at 540Mbps in blue and holds that past 10ft. At 20ft we see performance drop to 453Mbps and end at 417Mbps.
Testing backhaul, the Beacon 3 goes toe to toe with the AX92 from ASUS offering 748 at 20ft, 446Mbps at 30ft and 342Mbps at 40ft.
Like my experience with the Beacon 1, I found the Beacon 3 to be a fantastic mesh platform. Build quality in the plastics was stepped up a notch from the Beacon 1 giving this unit more weight and a better overall feel to it.
As mentioned, many times before the app is something that can make or break a consumer solution and with the Beacon 3 utilizing the same app as Beacon 1, we have a well laid out, easy to setup platform that makes the overall experience pleasant. Nokia has done an amazing job both in pre-pairing mesh nodes in the Trio configurations and adding in QR Code setup for adding additional units.
Performance of the Beacon 3 was on par with many high-end mesh platforms tested in the past, we found average 2.4GHz performance all the way out to 20ft at 94Mbps with a tremendous boost in 5GHz reaching 600Mbps. In range testing, the Beacon 3 proved itself offering 540Mbps out to 10ft and 420 to 450 between 20 and 30ft. Backhaul with these units was impressive and the highest I've seen to date reaching 748Mbps leaving plenty of throughput for additional wireless and wired connections.
and 5GHz stepped things up to 466Mbps within 10ft and held the best performance out to 30Ft. Backhaul on these units came in at 480Mbps at 30ft, leaving plenty of throughput for additional wired or wireless connections.
On to pricing, where the Nokia Beacon 3 Trio comes in at $449.99. You can pick up the single unit for $199.99 and a two pack for $349.99. Each Beacon 3 unit adds 2000 sq. ft off coverage to your system.
The Bottom Line
The Beacon 3 is an all out performer, offering the best backhaul performance I've seen and solid 5GHz performance across all nodes.