The Steam Deck OLED frenzy has begun but Valve's inventory is holding strong

 Valve Steam Deck OLED handheld PC.
Valve Steam Deck OLED handheld PC.

Valve came prepared for Steam Deck OLED launch day. As people race to the store page for its improved handheld gaming PC, the estimated delivery dates for the three available models hasn't been extended. Only the gray, translucent OLED model has had its expected delivery date pushed from days to weeks.

When the original Steam Deck launched last year, it went on backorder within a few hours, and it took Valve several months to catch up with the demand. The new version, which comes with a beautiful new OLED screen, improved battery life, and a list of other small improvements, looks like it won't suffer from the same issue. The store page for the $549 (512GB) and $649 (1TB) OLED models still say they'll be delivered within three to five business days. The same goes for the original LCD model (256GB), which is now the cheapest Steam Deck you can buy.

Valve told me it would be much better prepared for the Deck OLED's release than it was with the original version when I picked up my review unit from its office earlier this month. "We're confidently hoping that everything holds up well and people aren't slipping into reservations for months and months out," Valve's Jay Shaw said at the time.

That seems to be mostly true so far. There are reports of people running into errors when trying to use PayPal or Steam Wallet funds (Valve says it's fixed now), and some Canadian buyers have been warned that Valve's distributor "has hit a processing backlog" that might delay shippingdates. And in Taiwan, the release has been delayed a day due to a new certification required for the system's WiFi 6E chip. Valve says WiFi 6E functionality will be disabled on those units until "at least January 2024."

I hope Valve's stock continues to hold up because the Steam Deck OLED is one of the best handheld gaming PCs right now. Other devices beat it in performance, but none of them can match its price. As I said in my Steam Deck OLED review, it's an impressively polished version of the original system with key improvements to its most lacking areas, namely the battery life, weight, download speeds, and screen. Its performance is still the same, so if you already have a Deck there's no real reason to upgrade. But if you haven't experienced what it's like to have a surprisingly powerful gaming PC in your hands, there's really no better option at the moment.

And don't worry: you probably won't see a surprise Steam Deck 2 launch next year. Valve told PC Gamer that it's still waiting for a substantial improvement in APU performance—the Deck uses a 6nm "Sephiroth" AMD APU—before it thinks about releasing a full-fledged sequel. Until then, the Steam Deck OLED will be the best you can get.