At a special press event in Cupertino last week, Apple announced the next member of the Intel-based processor lineup: the Mac mini, available in two configurations.
One model features an Intel Core Solo (single-core processor) chip, which, according to Apple's tests, runs between 2.5 and 3.2 times faster than the PowerPC G4-based Mac mini, which is no longer available. The other model contains a Core Duo processor, with claimed speeds between 4.8 and 5.5 times that of the G4.
Both versions of the Intel-based Mac mini feature significant improvements to their connectivity. Ports on the back include gigabit Ethernet, DVI+VGA video out, one FireWire 400, four USB 2.0, and both analog and SPDIF (5.1) audio in and out ports. Steve Jobs also said the new minis are exceptionally quiet. As widely expected, the Mac mini now includes Front Row, along with the infrared remote control included with Intel-based iMacs and MacBook Pros.
Not highlighted at the event - but picked up by several outlets - is the fact that the new Mac mini does not include a dedicated graphics card, relying on the graphics core component of the Intel processor. Instead of using a separate store of memory, graphics processing is handled by the main processor(s) and eating up to 80 MB of system memory. (Macworld's Jonathan Seff has more information based on talking with Apple at the link below.)
The 1.5 GHz Core Single model includes 512 MB of RAM, a 60 GB SATA hard drive, and a combo drive and sells for $600. The 1.67 GHz Core Duo model includes 512 MB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive (with double-layer support) and costs $800. Both models are now available.