Apple unveils new Mac mini with HDMI port

Apple Inc. on Tuesday announced a brand-new redesign of the Mac mini, its low-cost desktop system. Besides an entirely new form factor, the new mini now sports an HDMI video port, a new graphics processor, and an SD card slot.

Taking a cue from the MacBook Pro line, the mini’s exterior is a 1.4-inch thick precision unibody aluminum case. Measuring in at just 7.7 inches square, the mini’s bottom features a black circular removable panel on the bottom of the machine which also allows you to access the computer’s RAM for upgrading. Apple also says that the mini is the most power-efficient computer around, using less than 10 watts when idle.

In another nice change from the previous version, the new Mac mini now has no external power supply, meaning that the large unsightly brick is now gone–it’s been internalized. Instead, there’s just a standard AC power plug that goes into the mini on one end and into your wall on the other.

Spec-wise, the mini sports a choice of 2.4GHz or 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processors with a 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache and a 1066Mhz frontside bus. By default the mini comes with 2GB of 1066MHz DD3 SDRAM that are upgradeable to 8GB, and either a 320GB or 500GB SATA hard drive. It also packs a slot-loading SuperDrive, an Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics processor that uses 256MB of main memory, and AirPort 802.11n Wi-Fi networking that’s also compatible with the 802.11 a/b/g standards. Besides the HDMI port, the mini also sports a mini DisplayPort connector that supports up to 2560 by 1600 pixels and ships with a HDMI to DVI adapter. There’s also a FireWire 800 port and four USB 2.0 connectors, Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.

In addition to the basic configuration, the new mini also comes in a server version, like its predecessor. The main difference of the server version is that it foregoes the SuperDrive for a pair of hard drives–in this case, two 500GB 7200rpm SATA drives. It also comes with 4GB of RAM, as opposed to the default mini’s 2GB, and the faster 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor–plus it’s pre-loaded with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server with support for unlimited clients. Otherwise, it’s identical to the default mini.

In its default configuration, the new Mac mini runs US$699–$100 more than the previous $599 model; the server version costs $999, which is unchanged from its predecessor.