The Renewal Refined is one of the iComforts I haven’t personally tested so my comments are limited to an analysis of the design, materials and and value rather than the “comfort” or “feel”. I also haven’t done a “summary” of the complete iComfort lineup so I’ll do that here as well. I may even put your post and this reply into the main iComfort thread if that’s OK with you.
I should start by saying that I agree that when someone is over 200 lbs, then there is a greater risk of premature softening and breakdown of any material but this is especially true with memory foam under the equivalent of 5 lb density and low to mid grade polyfoam when they are used in the upper layers (comfort layers) of a mattress.
The top layer of the Refined is 5 lb KoolComfort breathable memory foam which is a faster reacting good quality memory foam.
The next layer is the Cool Action gel memory foam. This is 4 lb density but the polymer density (the density of the actual memory foam before they add the gel beads) is less than this. The ILD is @10.5 which means it would be a fairly soft memory foam but would the gel beads would allow it to become firmer faster with deeper compression and it would have the durability of a sub 4 lb or “lower quality” memory foam (adding particles to foam lowers it’s durability). The beads act to reduce heat through convection (rather than evaporation) so they would not be as effective in the second layer of the mattress but the top layer is a more breathable foam to make up for this. There are also better ways to use gel IMO as an additive to other types of foam than using beads or particles which lower the durability of the foam they’re added to.
NOTE: The initial information in this post and my calculations led me to believe that the Cool Action memory foam was 5 lb but it appears that I was being generous and it is actually a 4 lb memory foam which means the polymer density of the memory foam before they add the gel would be even less. since polymer density determines durability and particles added to a foam can reduce durability … this would likely be a lower durability memory foam.
The next layer is 1.5" of Cool Action gel energy foam which is probably their name for Talalay latex. This is a good quality material and very durable.
Under this is 1" of support foam which appears to be a very firm 1.3 lb polyfoam which is low quality/density polyfoam that would be more appropriate for a much lower cost mattresses. This acts as a firming layer between the softer upper layers and the support core and would give the mattress a slightly firmer feel.
Finally on the bottom is the 6" support core which is apparently 1.5 lb polyfoam which is low quality for a higher budget mattress and is typically found in the support cores of “budget” mattresses.
In essence you have a mattresses which uses a range of low to high quality materials which falls in the softer but not the softest part of the iComfort lineup in terms of feel.
The upper memory foam layers are rather thick at 4.75" but the beads in the gel foam would slightly reduce the amount of sinking over other 4 lb foams and would make it feel firmer with less sinking in than other memory foams.
Overall … I would say this would be among the better iComfort models for those who want layers of memory foam this thick (which can be risky) and are confident that it won’t create issues with spinal alignment for their weight, body shape, and sleeping positions. It would be less risky than the Revolution (now Savant) or the Prodigy which use the same layer thickness of memory foam on top of the mattress but combine that with materials which would allow for more sinking in and greater risk of misalignment of the spine.
To give you a sense of how the iComfort lineup works from the lowest price model up to the highest priced model and some comments on how each would generically compare to other similar mattresses …
All of the lineup shares the same 2.75" of “Cool Action” gel memory foam with the same Comfortlast 6" polyfoam support core (which has firmer polyfoam on the outside to make the edges firmer.
The Insight just has the gel memory foam over the support core. It would be most comparable to a basic memory foam mattress with about 3" of sub 4 lb breathable memory foam over a lower quality base foam and should be compared to these in terms of quality/durability. It would feel “firmer” than most 4 lb memory foams though because of the gelbeads) but shouldn’t be compared to these in terms of value/durability.
The Genius has an additional 2" of support foam (very firm) in between the gel memory foam and the support core. This is a polyfoam which is lower density than the support core and also firmer than the core so for many people it would give the mattress a little firmer feel although depending on weight some people may rate it as feeling softer than the Insight. This would depend on how much of the firmer layer someone feels. This also means that it is adding a material in the upper layers that is less durable (the polyfoam). This would be comparable to a mattress that had a basic 3" of sub 4 lb memory foam and a lower quality support core and then had a layer of polyfoam in between to act as a firming layer and create a firmer feel than the support core alone.
The top models all have an additional 2" of KoolComfort 5 lb breathable memory foam in addition to the 2 “basic” layers (2.75" of CoolAction gel memory foam and the 6" ComfortLast support core) that all the models share.
The Revolution (now Savant) has 1" inch of softer polyfoam (what they call comfort foam) above the gel memory foam and then adds the KoolComfort above this so the softer polyfoam is sandwiched in between. They don’t list this layer in the description on the Serta site although it’s clear it’s there from the thickness of the mattress. The comfort foam would likely be a softer and a similar density polyfoam as the “support foam” in the Genius meaning it would be slightly less durable but would give a softer feeling to the mattress (more soft foam to sink into). The softer comfort foam and the soft additional layer of memory foam makes this one of the softest models of the lineup in most people’s perception. This would be most comparable to many multilayered memory foam mattresses which use a combination of softer and firmer memory foam and add some extra soft polyfoam underneath to make it all softer yet. IMO … the extra soft polyfoam is a negative rather than a positive but it creates a feel that people who don’t really know how to buy a suitable mattress and go by “showroom feel” alone tend to buy a lot (just like they buy a lot of pillowtops which are soft and plush in the showroom but quickly break down as the foam softens more quickly than it should and can lead to back alignment issues for some from too much soft foam on top).
The Prodigy is the same as the Revolution (now Savant) except they add 1" of slow recovery latex … a higher quality material … to the comfort layers. Because the slow recovery latex also feels soft … some people may perceive this model as being softer even than the Revolution because the comfort materials are even thicker but for most it’s the other way around because the slow recovery latex would feel firmer and would also isolate the gel foam below it a little more making it firmer as well. The lowest quality material in this model besides the gel memory foam in terms of density and durability would be the low density polyfoam comfort layer (also not listed on the Serta site). There would also be a risk here of too much soft foam in the top of the mattress and the alignment and possible back issues that can come from this.
Goodnight Refined: has exactly the same layering as the Genius except there is another inch of gel memory foam under the top 2.75" layer and above the 1.3 lb firm support foam. This would also be among the firmest of the lineup. It’s also rather remarkable to see the huge jump in price from the Genius with only an extra inch of gel memory foam.
The Renewal Refined has the same top 2 layers as the other top 3 models but they add 1.5" of “gel energy foam” under the memory foam layers and then an inch of the 1.3 lb firm support foam under this and all of this is above the 1.5 lb polyfoam core. The Gel energy foam appears to be Talalay latex (higher quality) with gel added and latex has a higher compression modulus (which allows a softer foam to get firmer faster) so is also more supportive. This would in the softer side of the lineup because of the extra layer of memory foam and the “gel energy foam”. It would be more comparable to a mattress that used 2 layers of memory foam and then a layer of latex under the memory foam to add a “soft but supportive” feel to the memory foam.
Wellbeing Refined: is the same as the Renewal refined except the layers are in a different order and there is an extra inch of gel memory foam. It has the 2" layer of 5 lb KoolComfort memory foam on top with an inch of the Gel memory foam under that with 1.5" of Talalay latex with gel under that and then the regular 2.75" layer of gel memory foam under that over the 6" 1.5 lb polyfoam support core. The top 2 layers (3") are also in a separate pillowtop construction to make it a bit softer yet. Once again… an extra inch of the gel memory foam equals a huge jump in price.
The goal of the iComforts seems to have been to create a “showroom feel” that people would buy but there is less emphasis on the quality of materials that are used to create this feel. While they have certainly been successful in this … and they are one of the best selling mattresses in North America … they certainly would not have the durability or value of mattesses that used higher quality materials to get to the same feel and sell for lower prices (usually sold by smaller manufacturers).
ADDED: According to a Serta rep (see post #12 here) the specs of the iComfort foams are as follows …
Support foam is 1.3 lbs. density and 52.5 lbs. IFD (very firm)
Cool Gel Foam layer 2 inches 4.1 lbs. 10.5 IFD
Core layer 6 inches 1.51 and 33 lbs. IFD
Assuming this information is correct … the polyfoam (support foam and core layer) is low quality and is usually seen only in the lowest price ranges not in mattresses at this price. The gel memory foam is in a “mid range” density. these are not the quality of materials that should be in mattresses in this price range.
So overall … the iComforts individually and as a lineup have done well to target the range of “feels” that people like and there is a wide variety of these feels to suit most consumers. What they’ve “missed” … is using the quality of materials that would make this feel longer lasting. While they are priced below some other mainstream mattresses that have similar feels … they get there at the expense of durability and promote a “showroom feel”. They compete well with other mainstream brands which are now rushing to come out with their own versions of gel materials because of their popularity. Some of these competitors are now using gel foams that use more durable applications of the gel and there are also more smaller manufacturers who are also coming out with their own gel mattresses which are far better value than any of the mainstream brands.
So a quick summary of the iComfort lineup?
A good range of different feels that cater to the perceptions of a large majority of consumers who tend to buy a mattress more subjectively than objectively and using materials to get there that are “mixed” in quality from very low to high. The gel memory foam itself would be on the lower end of the memory foam durability scale. They compare fairly well to their “direct” national brand competitors that would likely be on the same showroom floor but all of these would be fairly poor value. They have some models that are better or worse depending on the amount of lower quality materials in the particular model. They also use more lower quality or “questionable” materials than many other mattresses made by smaller regional, national, and especially local manufacturers who are now making mattresses with similar feels using higher quality materials at lower prices … meaning better value.