Can you fit a PC in your pocket? Not unless you have exceptionally large pockets, you can't. Valve hopes to change that with the Steam Deck (opens in new tab), a handheld PC that should fit inside at least a generously sized jacket pocket. The first wave of these compact computers have now been released for purchase, though it's not quite as straightforward as heading to your local electronics store to buy one.
As the past few years of PC gaming hardware releases have taught us, nothing is ever that simple. Though, Valve is making an attempt at a more orderly ordering system for the Steam Deck than much of the chaos we've seen the past year. It should result in a smooth, if a little long-winded, release for the handheld console.
Is the Steam Deck out now?
Valve released the Steam Deck's initial wave on February 25, 2022. What that means is that those first in line for a Steam Deck (that signed up last summer) will receive an email allowing them to place an order for the handheld PC on that date. They will have 72 hours to complete their purchase, otherwise that ticket is sent to the next person in the queue and they lose their chance.
After that time, we have very rough estimates as to when the next Steam Deck shipments will be. At least one in Q2, 2022, and then an unknown quantity thereafter. We also don't know if Valve plans to gradually release Steam Decks during each period, or whether the initial restock will be our lot.
We do know that queues are regional, and that means availability may differ region to region.
How do I make a reservation for a Steam Deck?
Just head over to the Steam Deck product page, log in, and grab a reservation. They're $5 (£4), but that comes off the total of the Steam Deck if you buy one. Or is refunded if you change your mind.
Just note that the Steam Deck is not available worldwide, only set regions. These are the US, UK, Canada, and EU. Valve would like to expand this availability, we've been told, but perhaps it will wait until supply levels out somewhat before doing that.
If I pre-order a Steam Deck today, when will I receive it?
Pre-orders placed today may differ depending on your location as time goes on, though it appears expected order availability will be sometime after Q2 2022 no matter where in the world you are.
Expected Steam Deck order availability by region:
- US: After Q2 2022
- Canada: After Q2 2022
- UK: After Q2 2022
- Germany: After Q2 2022
- France: After Q2 2022
Polling the PC Gamer staff that pre-ordered on the same day pre-orders went live: some have expected availability in Q2 2022, while others are after Q2 2022. No exact dates are given beyond these rough estimates.
What that means is that we know there will be at least one wave of Steam Decks on sale in February, Q1 for the people who pre-ordered; and another sometime between April–June, Q2. After that, there will be a further shipment, likely in the second half of the year, though when exactly is not clear.
The fact that many of us who pre-ordered on the first day also have the same order availability as what's currently listed on the Steam Deck pre-order page is interesting in itself. It could be that the expected availability is so distant that Valve would rather not say when these units may arrive, or that it isn't able to say what availability will look like later in the year. I'd say that may have something to do with the global semiconductor shortage, for one, as late 2022 may see some, perhaps minor, improvement in supply.
Semiconductor supply is expected to increase in late 2022/2023, after which point there may not be such a delay on Steam Deck orders as there is today.(opens in new tab)
How do I check my Steam Deck delivery date?
You can check expected order availability on the Steam Store's Steam Deck product page (opens in new tab).
Just don't hit the cancel button, yeah?
Has the Steam Deck been delayed?
Valve delayed the first wave of Steam Deck devices from December 2021 to February 2022. So far there have been no further delays to the handheld PC, and the February release is full steam ahead today. That said, we're keeping an eye on the Q2 2022 order availability dates in case they change.
We can't say for sure if Valve has pushed back, or even brought forward, the availability dates beyond Q2 2022, as no specific date has been given.
Will I be able to purchase a Steam Deck from anywhere else but Steam?
The only place to secure a Steam Deck pre-order is via Valve directly and the Steam Deck product page. Valve's track record with its own hardware launches would also suggest this will remain the case for most of the Steam Deck's lifetime.
The Valve Index is only available to purchase through Valve directly. The Steam Controller and Steam Link, while now six-feet under, were also primarily purchased direct from Steam during their lifetimes.
Valve has alluded to one-day there being general availability of the Steam Deck to purchase. You can sign up for a heads-up on that if you add it to your wishlist. Though with the queue going back potentially into 2023, it might be a while before that happens. If ever. Who knows if you'll even want a Steam Deck by then.(opens in new tab)
What about the second-hand market?
I have very little doubt that, come launch day, there will be heaps of Steam Decks available on auction and reseller sites. I would also assume these will come with massively inflated price tags.
While I can't make a blanket statement for every second-hand Steam Deck, I would suggest caution in overpaying for the device to get your hands on one. The Steam Deck's most impressive feature is its price tag, which is far below its competitors in the handheld PC gaming space.
If you're looking to spend $1,000 or more on a Steam Deck second-hand, you could spend that money on a brand new portable PC from Onexplayer or Aya instead. Or, even better, put that money to better use on a tried-and-tested gaming laptop with a discrete GPU and power to play the latest games.
Has anyone got their hands on a Steam Deck already?
We have! You can see what Wes makes of it in his full Steam Deck review (opens in new tab).
We've also had plenty of hands on a couple of devices to make sure we can give you the full breadth of information required to make your mind up about buying one or not. That includes playing Elden Ring on the Steam Deck (opens in new tab) and enjoying PC gaming down at our local bar (opens in new tab), for science.
When will the Steam Deck dock arrive?
Valve has confirmed that a USB Type-C hub will arrive "late spring (opens in new tab)." That's a little delayed from what Valve was hoping for, apparently. We know this will be a powered USB-Type C dock with the capability to connect your Steam Deck to a monitor for bigger-screen gaming, and come with DisplayPort and HDMI output, an Ethernet adapter, and three USB inputs. That's it, pictured above.
We've also found some third-party docks today work great for this, but not necessarily all of them. One we have used and know works is the Sabrent Multi-Port USB Type-C Hub With 4k HDMI, which we've spotted on Amazon US (opens in new tab) and Amazon UK (opens in new tab) going pretty cheap.