Every year in tech, it gets a little weirder whether it's holograms, self-driving cars, watches that can make phone calls, or Razer — the famous PC gaming company — who is now making a non-energy drink.
Yes, RESPAWN, which grew out of an April Fool's joke in 2010 by Razer is now a real thing that you can buy. The drink though is being called a "mental performance drink" for a good reason, which is it has no sugar and just enough caffeine to give you a small boost, but not overload your brain or cause an energy crash later.
Razer was kind enough to send me a box of the stuff, so here are my thoughts and what you need to know.
RESPAWN what is it?
Straight up RESPAWN is a powdered drink that comes in four different flavors with twenty servings per box. The flavors include Pomegranate Watermelon (red), Blue Raspberry (blue), Green Apple (green), and Tropical Pineapple (yellow).
Ingredients-wise Razer is de-emphasizing the caffeine, which is a good idea since many people already consume too much. Each packet contains 95mg of the stuff sourced from green tea extract. That amount of caffeine is equal to one cup of regular coffee. For comparison, something like the popular 5 Hour Energy has 200mg while your typical 7-11 energy drink can hit up to 350mg.
The other main ingredient is 48mg of choline bitartrate, which is a part of the b-complex vitamin family and quite popular in the world of "nootropics" aka cognitive enhancers due to its relation to acetylcholine in the brain. Many studies have shown supplementing with choline bitartrate can lead to increased focus, memory formation, and muscle contraction. It's also found naturally in peanut butter, egg yolks, beef liver, and salmon.
Additionally, there's some ground ginger, which is a great anti-inflammatory and your usual assortment of b-vitamins like niacin, B6, B12, and pantothenic acid.
With just 4g of carbohydrates, no fat, and at 20 calories per serving RESPAWN is by no means healthy, but it's far better than most energy drinks and certainly sodas.
RESPAWN taste test
Loading up the 20 oz RESPAWN Insulated Metal Shaker — a separate $29.99 purchase — with the various flavors here's my take:
- Pomegranate Watermelon (red): I'm not a fan of watermelon flavoring, but this is quite mild, and it is only slightly sweet. I'm unsure of what pomegranate flavoring tastes like, so this leans more watermelon. Overall quite good.
- Blue Raspberry (blue): This tastes like cotton candy. It's okay, but the sweetest of the bunch.
- Green Apple (green): Razer green? Check. Mild but satisfying flavor. Done. Nice lingering of apple flavor? Yup. Easily the best choice.
- Tropical Pineapple (yellow): Feels tropical like a generic piña colada. Solid flavor profile, tasty, not too sweet.
It turns out all of the flavors are pretty tasty. The critical takeaway is that while RESPAWN is slightly sweet, it doesn't quite reach the saccharine-ness of regular soda or even those 5 Hour Energy drinks.
RESPAWN final verdict
While the idea of a drink for gamers may have started as a joke, Razer is taking the launch of RESPAWN seriously. The presser states that Razer wanted "a formula to meet the specific demands of the gaming environment and intense mental activity. At just 20 calories and zero sugar, there'll be no excesses to weigh you down. Just the focus you need for the next mission."
Compared to most sodas or energy drinks, RESPAWN cleverly fills a niche in the caffeinated drinks market. It's not about more energy; it's about ingredients that are better suited for gaming with no jitters or energy crashes.
Does that justify the $25 price for a box of 20 packets? The $1.25 per serving is a lot less than most energy drinks from the store, or your favorite coffee from your local café, so in that sense, it's not absurd. Of course, the cost to make such a packet versus what Razer is charging favors the gaming company highly here – there's a reason why the supplement industry is so massive.
I do appreciate the whole powdered packed thing too as it makes it easy to pack for a trip, or if I'm going over a friend's house to game.
Even for non-gamers, I see RESPAWN as something useful. As a writer and occasional YouTuber, finding the balance between feeling good or being overstimulated can be challenging. RESPAWN though, seems to get the job done and it's something I'll gladly use it when I travel and when at home.
Overall, Razer's RESPAWN may seem absurd, but in sampling their offerings, it's not the weirdest thing they've done. If you're in the market for this type of thing, I can give RESPAWN a recommendation.
- Not a lot of caffeine
- Good ingredients
- Flavors aren't too sweet
- Nice effect
- Can get expensive
- A bit gimmicky
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