About to spend $3200 on iComfort with motion from Macy's?

AM I crazy? I’ve looked around here, I’ve looked online at other bed places and I cant find anything that would seem to have the quality at anywhere near a decent price. The tempupedics can cost upwards of $5k, the Queen iComfort Genius is $1600. Am I making a mistake or can I find some underground place with better foam here in Seattle?

Hi Shadow,

I don’t think you’re crazy but I also don’t think you are looking in the direction of your best value.

the iComfort Genius has 2.75" of memory foam (in this case gel memory foam) and the rest of the mattress is polyfoam including a 2" layer of what they call “support form” under the gel memory foam. This is a pretty basic mattress and similar mattresses are available for much less.

In addition to this … the Seta gel memory foam has a density of about 5 lbs but in reality is a 4 lb memory foam with gel beads added to it which makes it weigh out heavier than the memory foam itself. The gel beads are also added to the memory foam and any particles added to memory foam are likely to decrease the durability of the foam. In other words … the gel memory foam would be more comparable in terms of durability to 4 lb memory foam than 5 lb memory foam.

Even compared to higher quality 5 lb memory foam though … it is still not the best value. As one example … this 10" mattress has a very similar mattress construction and uses 3" of 5+ lb memory foam and has similar support layers underneath.

A couple of other examples are here and here.

Even better yet would be to go to a local manufacturer where you could actually lie on a mattress and know from actual testing that a particular mattress was what you wanted and have the benefit of the knowledge, quality, and value that most local factory direct manufacturers offer compared to national brands.

A list of some of the better options in the Seattle area are in post #2 here.

The Serta Motion Perfect adjustable base is made by Ergomotion and is basically the 400 model here (which has one of the best prices available) with some minor differences in features (such as the zipper attachment and different fabric).

I personally purchased the Reverie Deluxe (Reverie makes the Tempurpedic adjustable base) from them which I thought was better value yet.

So lets say you spend $1200 on an equivalent or better quality mattress and another $1100 on an equivalent adjustable base. That adds up to $2300 which to me sounds better than $3200 :slight_smile:

Hope this helps


Awesome, some great info there for sure Phx. I’m definitely looking at the Reverie adjustable frame but the mattress is looking a little different. I did try out the iComfort Genius at Macys and it was NICE AND FIRM. Which of the ones you mentioned in links do you think may be comparable to the firmness? Does the mere fact that something is 5 lbs density mean its going to be firm? Do you thin the Sensus 10" would be as firm as the iComfort Genius? thanks man and appreciate what you do here. Paying good money for a mattress is a tough decision, almost like buying a car so it can be a tough one and sometimes stressful. You tend to help out greatly with your knowledge here.

Hi Shadow,

The density of polyfoam, and it’s denser variant memory foam, has only a loose relationship with firmness itself and even the word “firm” has many different meanings when it comes to mattress construction. In the foam categories of polyfoam and memory foam (the third foam category is latex foam) … density is more about the quality and durability of a foam compared to other foams of the same category. There are other factors involved in foam quality and durability as well that are more technical but density is the most important

Polyfoam for example is usually seen in a mattress in densities ranging from about .9 lbs/ft3 all the way up to densities over 3 lbs/ft3 and every density can be made in a different range of firmness levels (all the way from ultra soft to ultra firm).

Memory foam also has a wide range of different densities (normally in the range of about 2.5 lbs/ft3 to 8 lbs/ft3) but at least in the versions used in mattresses … it is all made in a very narrow range of firmness (ranging from ultra soft to soft). All of them are too soft to be used in the support layers of a mattress which is why they all have different types of foam or innersprings underneath them. The difference with memory foam (as opposed to polyfoam or latex) is that a measurement of it’s softness is misleading because unlike other types of foam … the actual firmness level (how much weight it can hold up at a certain depth of compression) changes with temperature, humidity, and time. The perceived firmness also changes with how quickly the memory foam is compressed and how quickly it reacts. Memory foam that is pressed down quickly or takes longer to respond to pressure will feel much firmer than memory foam that is pressed down more slowly or responds to pressure faster (like the difference between slapping honey and pressing more slowly on the honey).

Denser memory foam also tends to be slower reacting than less dense memory foam (it has more slower reacting viscous qualities and less faster reacting elastic qualities) so while it will feel firmer with initial compression or movement on a mattress or may take longer to warm up and get softer … in time it can become just as soft as lower density memory foam of the same firmness level. It just takes longer to do so.

There is also a wide variety of different types of memory foams each with variations in their chemical compositions and each manufacturer tries to offer a range of different types with different characteristics (such as airflow or breathability, reaction time, temperature sensitivity, visco/elastic ratio and other qualities).

In general though … the lower the density of a memory foam … the less viscous (honey or liquid like) qualities it has and the more elastic qualities (instant reacting and compressing under pressure rather than flowing away) it has. This means that lower density memory foam will often feel softer because it is less temperature sensitive and reacts faster (compresses more easily at first) but it can also be less pressure relieving than denser memory foam which “flows” more accurately around the shape of the body and can distribute weight better. So in one sense … it feels softer. In another sense … it’s less pressure relieving.

One final complication to the softness/firmness equation is that a big part of how firm a mattress feels is determined by the layer thickness of the different types of foam used and by the type and firmness of the materials above it and by the middle and lower layers of a mattress that are below it. For example … if you have very soft low density memory foam (or any other very soft foam) in a 2" layer on top of the mattress and then very firm foam underneath it for support then you would sink through the top layer much more easily and feel more of the firmness of the support layers underneath. People that were back sleepers or lighter weight may not feel the lower layers as much and would call it softer (they would feel the upper layers more). Some of the firmest innerspring mattresses for example have several inches of very soft foam above the innerspring for some cushioning but not enough to isolate the firmness of the innerspring. This same mattress with a firmer foam on top may feel softer because the innerspring is more isolated and the deeper compression is more gradual. All of this depends on the height, weight, shape, sleeping positions, and perceptions of each person and how they interact and perceive the different layering patterns of different mattresses.

So there are many factors involved in what feels soft or firm for each individual. Part of this is the mattress, part of this is the person, and part of this is the subjective perceptions and what a person is focused on (pressure relief or alignment) when they use the words soft or firm. Someone whose hips sink in too deeply into a mattress that has firmer comfort layers but softer support layers may call it “too soft” while someone else who is more focused on pressure relief or is lighter may call the same mattress too firm.

In the case of the gel memory foam used in the iComfort … it is basically 4 lb memory foam (mid quality) with particles of a heavier gel added to it. Because the particles are heavier than the memory foam … the overall weight of the memory foam layer is higher than the memory foam itself. In addition to this … the gel beads don’t flow away from pressure in the same way as memory foam and compress underneath pressure more so this type of memory foam gets firmer faster with deeper compression than the same form would without the beads. It has a higher compression modulus (also called sag factor and a few other names) than other 4 lb memory foam in other words. Because of the formula they use and also because the memory foam is lower density … it is also faster reacting than other foams. The particles would also tend to reduce the durability of the foam because they are not part of the actual matrix of the memory foam itself. This means that a 3" layer of the gel memory foam may feel similar to a 2.5" layer of “regular” 4 lb memory foam with a firmer layer of foam underneath it.

In the case of the iComfort you will see too if you look at the layering of the different models that they all use the same 2.75" layer of gel memory foam in the upper layers. The differences between them in terms of softness and support is in the different types of other foams that are both above and below the single layer of gel memory foam. This ranges from a different type of memory foam (KoolComfort) to various types of polyurethane foams to various types of latex. The feel of each mattress comes from the type of layering and foam used in the comfort layers in combination with the foam used in the middle and lower layers. Similar feels could be produced using different combinations of materials. Unfortunately Serta (and the other major manufacturers) don’t share all the specs of their mattresses so personal testing is more accurate in duplicating a certain feel that uses different materials and layering than going by specs on a website (without having the complete specs of the mattress you are comparing it to).

Because “softness” is a function of how much a person will compress a mattress … people with different body weights, shapes, and sleeping positions will often describe the same mattress in different terms. What is “soft” to one may be very firm to another.

I know that this is more than you probably wanted to hear and it also makes it very difficult to “match” one mattress against another. It’s easier to match a mattress against what I call PPP which means Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and preferences and use that as your “reference”. In the end … PPP is the comfort equation that leads to the “perfect mattress” for an individual anyway. If all the specs of a particular mattress were known (of every layer) then it would be much easier to come closer to duplicating it with the same or similar materials but this would mean that the major manufacturers would have to reveal that the foams they are using are not as high quality as people would otherwise think and they would be encouraging the duplication of their mattresses by consumers using higher quality and more durable materials at lower prices … which of course is the last thing they would want.

The Sensus foam that is used in some of the online examples I gave is a denser, high quality, and slower reacting foam that is more heat sensitive. The 4 lb Aerus is a faster reacting, cooler memory foam which would be closer to the gelfoam … but not the same because it wouldn’t have particles inside it. Used in thinner layers or with slightly firmer polyfoam layers underneath it would be closer.

The most reliable way to “duplicate” the iComfort would be to find a local manufacturer (if any are near you) and test their various mattresses to find the one that has the same combination of pressure relief, alignment, and feel (speed of recovery, ease of movement, breathability, motion separation etc). This could be a result of firmer foam underneath the memory foam or it could use thinner layers of memory foam with softer polyfoam (or other foam layers) underneath it. There are many pathways in other words to the same level of Pressure relief, Posture, and Preference or feel … even though he actual layering may be different. The benefit of doing this is that in almost all cases you would end up with a similar mattress (or perhaps even closer to your perfect “feel”) using higher quality and more durable materials at a lower price.

For example … this thread will give you an example one or our manufacturing members who makes a mattress that uses a higher quality type of gelfoam (where the gel actually makes the foam more durable and isn’t in particles in the foam) using much higher quality support foam at a lower price. High quality local factory direct manufacturers like this exist all over the country. They can save you a lot of research into materials (most of them already know it, are transparent about what is in their mattresses, and are happy to use their knowledge to your benefit) and help you spend more time on testing mattresses.

You are almost always much better off avoiding the major brands and the chain stores that sell them and the marketing stories and selling techniques that their sales are based on. Finding a high quality local outlet that offers quality and value can be just as important as the mattress that you buy because they won’t just focus on how a mattress feels … they will also tell you truthfully how long that feel and the mattress itself can reasonably be expected to last.

I know this was probably a longer reply than you were expecting but I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about what can be a very intricate and sometimes confusing subject (softness and firmness) which seems so simple but is really the basis behind much of the hundreds of pages on the main site and the forum :).


Hey Phoenix, very nice article there. Thanks much for the help. I’m definitely mroe prepared to shop smarter now thanks to you. Will keep reading up on site. laters

Hi Shadow,

At some point, some of the more lengthy replies in the forum will gradually become the basis for more permanent articles on the site itself so I can “point to” them more easily rather than referencing forum posts.

Thanks for giving me the chance to go into more detail. Sometimes it’s amazing that something as seemingly simple as a “softness/firmness” question can have such a complex answer … and it’s no wonder that it can be very confusing for the majority of people. I was “in the mood” :slight_smile: