updated 09:35 am EDT, Wed July 20, 2011
New Mini drops optical drive from design
Apple today introduced an updated Mac mini, representing its smallest and cheapest desktop system. Configurations are based primarily on dual-core Core i5 or Core i7 processors, paired with either integrated or AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics; the CPU in a server configuration is a quad-core Core i7. Custom orders can further include options like a 7200rpm hard drive, a 256GB SSD, and/or up to 8GB of RAM. All models now include a Thunderbolt port, which can be used to connect compatible monitors and/or storage peripherals.
While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections are built into each model, Apple has also taken the step of removing the optical drive, previously built into all non-server Minis. The only options for reading or writing from CD/DVD are now limited to remote access on a Mac or Windows system, or connecting an external peripheral such as a SuperDrive.
OS X Lion comes pre-installed on each computer. Prices for the three stock configurations are $599, $799 and $999; these can be ordered online today, but will only show up in retail stores tomorrow.
To go with new Macs Apple has announced the Thunderbolt Display, an upgrade of the Cinema Display. While usable with video adapters the monitor is mainly intended for the Thunderbolt or DisplayPort connections on supporting Macs. It measures 27 inches, and further incorporates USB 2.0, FireWire 800 and gigabit Ethernet ports along with a FaceTime HD camera and integrated speakers. A MagSafe power connector on the included Thunderbolt cable allows MacBooks to charge without a separate cord.
The Thunderbolt Display will cost $999, and ship sometime within the next 60 days. Apple warns that taking advantage of features beyond the screen requires a Thunderbolt-capable Mac.