Steam Deck pre-order guide: how to reserve Valve's handheld PC (it's complicated)

Valve's Steam Deck pre-orders open today and here's how to secure the portable PC for yourself

Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve is joining the handheld party with Steam Deck; a portable, handheld gaming PC that runs an optimised version of Steam OS so you can play your triple A titles on the go. Pre-orders open today, and they're a little convoluted, but anything that beats the scalpers and their bots is worth a little extra effort. 

There are three models to choose from which increase in storage size and speed as the price goes up. Everything else is equal, with the handheld sporting a 7-inch 60hz LCD screen capable of 1200 x 800 16:10 resolution and running your games at a smooth 60fps. Steam Deck isn't shipping until December, but reservations open today. It's not as straightforward as you might think, with measures in place to make sure Valve doesn't see the same scalper problem that has plagued both the Xbox Series X and PS5 since launch. So let's dive in and get you that pre-order!

When do Steam Deck pre-orders go live?

Steam Deck pre-orders open on July 16 at 10AM PDT / 1PM EDT / 6PM BST and there are three models to choose from, with the details laid out below. The storage and speed of the handheld increase as the price goes up, but there are a few extras thrown in to make it slightly less painful. You can check out the summary of each option below before scrolling down to the nitty gritty of the pre-order process.   

Steam Deck

(Image credit: Valve)

Steam Deck entry-level model

  • Price: $399 / £349 (approx. AU$538) 
  • Storage: 64GB eMMC (Embedded Multimedia Card)
  • Carrying case

Steam Deck standard model

  • Price: $529 / £459 (approx. AU$713)
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD 
  • Faster storage
  • Carrying case
  • Exclusive Steam Community profile bundle

Steam Deck premium model

  • Price: $649 / £569 (approx. AU$875)
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
  • Fastest storage
  • Premium anti-glare etched glass
  • Exclusive carrying case
  • Exclusive Steam Community profile bundle
  • Exclusive virtual keyboard theme

Steam Deck

(Image credit: Valve)

Yes, Steam Deck pre-orders require a reservation fee

Valve has implemented a number of caveats to "ensure a fair ordering process." First up is the reservation fee. This will be $5 (which we assume will be £5 for UK customers). The fee is described as "a clearer signal of intent to purchase," allowing for Valve to "balance supply chain, inventory, and regional distribution" as the reservations roll in. The reservation fee counts towards your Steam Deck purchase so you won't lose the cash. 

The fee is refundable if you don't order your Steam Deck in the given window of time (more on that below) via whichever payment method you use. That only applies if the refund occurs within 30 days of your reservation. It if falls outside of the initial 30 days, your refund will go to your Steam Wallet. 

Steam Deck pre-orders made on July 16 and July 17

During the first 48 hours that Steam Deck pre-orders are open, only certain people will actually be able to get through the process. In another move to stamp out scalpers, only those of you who have made a purchase on Steam prior to June 2021 will be able to place a reservation. 

"We are aware of potential unauthorized resellers, and as an additional safeguard to ensure a fair ordering process, we’ve added a requirement that the reserver has made a purchase on Steam prior to June 2021 for the first 48 hours of reservation availability," says the Valve Steam Deck reservation FAQ.  

Everyone else will have to wait until Sunday. As an added bonus, only one Steam Deck can be ordered per Steam account, so this should stop scalpers jumping on the first batch of hardware and hoovering it all up.

Steam Deck

(Image credit: Valve)

How do Steam Deck pre-orders work? 

Now that we've got the requirements out of the way, how does the Steam Deck pre-order system actually work? After you've picked your model, handed over your reservation fee, and got in on the first wave or waited until Sunday, here's what happens next.

Once you get through the reservation process, you'll be entered into a queue. As soon as stock is available, customers will be contacted by email in the order in whcih they entered the queue.  

Reservations are regional, and you'll need a Steam account to place one. Your Steam account must also be in a valid country with your account in "good standing". It's also worth nothing that you'll only be able to order the model you chose at the point of submitting your reservation.  

Valve is aiming to start sending out invitations to actually place orders by December, 2021, but does say that it can't guarantee availability. If you miss the allocated window given to you to place your order, your reservation fee will be refunded in full. If you're happy with all of that, head to the Steam Deck reservation page.

How to cancel Steam Deck pre-orders

You can cancel your Steam Deck reservation at any time, but it'll possibly have an affect on the refund of your up front fee. As explained above, if you cancel within 30 days of placing your reservation, you'll get refunded via the payment method you used for your reservation. Anything past the 30 day window gets refunded to your Steam Wallet.  

Shabana Arif
Shabana Arif

Shabana is T3's News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). She's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down here at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies. If you have any tech or gaming tips, shoot over an email or DM her on social media.