Today, Apple updated its Mac mini desktop lineup. Notable improvements over last year’s refresh are the addition of Core i5 and Core i7 “Sandy Bridge” processors, a Thunderbolt port, and discrete graphics (2.5GHZ model only). The optical drive has also been removed, however, the Mac mini supports the MacBook Air SuperDrive and can access the optical drives on other PCs and Macs.

The base Apple Mac mini costs $599 and features an Intel Core i5 2.3GHz “Sandy Bridge” dual-core processor and 2GB RAM, while the high-end Apple Mac mini costs $799 and features an Intel Core i5 2.5GHz “Sandy Bridge” dual-core processor, 4GB RAM, and AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256MB graphics. Each model features a 500GB 5400rpm hard drive, AirPort Extreme (802.11a/n wireless), Bluetooth 4.0, both HDMI and DVI ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and OS X 10.7 Lion.

Apple also offers a new Apple Mac mini Server for $999 which features an Intel Core i7 2GHz “Sandy Bridge” quad-core processor, 4GB RAM, two 500GB 7200rpm hard drives, and OS X 10.7 Lion Server. All models are available today from the Apple Store with free shipping. Sales tax is added where applicable.

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