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How to pre-order Steam Deck: where to buy Valve’s handheld gaming PC

Steam Deck preorders
(Image credit: Valve)

Value has announced the Steam Deck is coming this year. This portable gaming PC is the company’s answer to the Nintendo Switch and will allow you to take your entire library of Steam games on the go. 

The early response from PC gamers has been pretty enthusiastic and it won’t be a surprise if the Steam Deck becomes another piece of gaming hardware that becomes extremely hard to buy. Like the PS5, Xbox Series X and recently-announced Nintendo Switch OLED, getting your hands on a Steam Deck at launch could be a very tricky task.

Thankfully Valve appears to be aware of this and is implementing systems to ensure the device ends up in the hands of gamers, rather than resellers looking to make a quick profit. 

Nevertheless, even if scalpers have a tough time hoovering up all the launch stock, due to the ongoing global chip shortage, there will almost certainly be more demand for the Steam Deck than there is supply. If you’re interested, you’ll want to get your order in during the first wave to avoid disappointment later down the line. 

The pre-order process for the Steam Deck is a little more complicated than just refreshing a retailer’s listing and hoping you manage to get your order in before the dreaded "sold out" notice appears. We’ve broken down the process below to help you get your pre-order fuss-free. 

Where to pre-order Steam Deck 

Currently, the Steam Deck can only be pre-ordered from the Steam website. Pre-orders are currently live. 

Although, technically the word pre-order is slightly misleading in this case. Valve is allowing customers to place a $5 reservation on a unit from today, which will then be taken off the price of the Steam Deck when you complete your order closer to release.  

Valve has yet to put a definitive release date on the Steam Deck. The company has just given a somewhat vague December 2021 shipping date for customers in the U.S. and U.K. for now. We would expect the device to release in time for the holidays though.

Steam Deck: from $399 @ Steam
Valve's portable gaming PC will let you take your entire Steam gaming library on the go. The Steam Deck is available from $399 and reservations are now live. View Deal

How to pre-order Steam Deck 

As noted above the pre-order process for the Steam Deck is a little bit different. You’re reserving a unit rather than completing an order, which does, unfortunately, mean that you’re not guaranteed a unit even if you put $5 down. 

Once you put your deposit down you’ll be placed into a reservation queue and then be contacted closer to launch to complete your order. Customers will be contacted based on when they placed a reservation, so if you desperately want a Steam Deck gets your reservation in as soon as possible. 

Don’t worry if you place a deposit and then change your mind. If you request a refund within 30 days of making a reservation you’ll get refunded to your payment method, if it’s been longer than a month you’ll get a refund as Steam credit. 

No other retailers are listing the Steam Deck just yet, though that is likely to change in the future. However, it may not be until 2022 that you can buy a Steam Deck from anywhere but Valve. 

Steam Deck price and models

Steam Deck

(Image credit: Valve)

The Steam Deck is being released in three models. The cheapest version will cost $399 and comes with 64GB of eMMC storage. If that’s not a big enough hard drive for you, then you can get a Steam Deck with a 256GB SSD for $529 or a 512GB SSD for $649. 

Spec-wise all three models of the portable gaming device are the same, so the price difference is solely due to the increased storage capacity. Each also comes with a carrying case, and the most expensive model comes with “premium anti-glare etched glass” as well. 

The storage capabilities of the Steam Deck can be expanded upon with third-party hard drives, so even if you opt for the cheapest 64GB model now, you will be able to increase its storage in the future. 

Steam Deck specs  

A full technical breakdown can be found on the Steam Deck site, but these are are the key specs:

Steam Deck at a glance
Price$399; $529; $649Same processor/RAM, different storage
CPU/GPUAMD Zen 2 + RDNA 2 APU4-core, 8-thread with 8 RDNA 2 compute units for GPU
RAM16GB LPDDR5
Screen7" 1280x800 LCD Display512GB model to include anti-glare etched glass
Battery40-watt hour7-8 hours for 2D games/web browsing
ConnectivityBluetooth, USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
Storage64GB; 256GB; 512GB256GB and 512GB models will use faster NVMe SSD storage. 64GB will use eMMC.
ExpansionMicro SD Card slot
OtherBuilt-in microphone, ambient light sensor

The controller is built into the system, like a Nintendo DS for example. You’ll see all the buttons you expect including shoulder buttons and two joysticks. Plus the device even sports two trackpads to simulate mouse functionality.  

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.