Apple this afternoon unveiled a new Mac mini desktop computer, the first update since August 2007.

Available in two models, Mac mini features a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB of DDR3 1066MHz memory, up to 320GB Serial ATA hard drive, five USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800 and a SuperDrive

The Nvidia GeForce 9400M, found in Apple's aluminium unibody MacBooks, brings up to five times faster graphics performance to the Mac mini, promises Apple.

The Mac mini now includes dual display support. It can drive two Apple or third-party displays with Mini DisplayPort or DVI connections.

Interestingly, the Mac mini sports a FireWire 800 socket. Although rumoured shots featured a FireWire 800, it stands in contrast to the MacBook, which had FireWire removed. The presence of a FireWire 800 socket could show that Apple has changed its mind about the technology.

Apple claims the new Mac mini offers the world’s most energy efficient desktop. It draws less than 13 watts of power when idle, which is up to 10 times less power than a typical desktop PC, based on energy efficiency categories and products listed within the EPA Energy Star 4.0 database as of February 2009.

“The Mac mini is not only our most affordable Mac, it’s also the world’s most energy efficient desktop computer,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, who is standing on for Steve Jobs while he's on a leave of absence.

Adding to the green theme, the Mac mini uses PVC-free internal components and cables and contain no brominated flame retardants, says Apple. The Mac mini also features a material-efficient system and packaging design and uses highly recyclable materials.

Speculation over the future of the Mac mini in recent weeks has been rife. There were concerns that Apple would abandon the compact computer, which has gained a cult following among some Mac enthusiasts.

The 2GHz Mac mini with 120GB hard drive, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB memory, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, and Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics retails at £499.

The 2GHz Mac mini with 320GB hard drive and 2GB memory retails at £649.

Build-to-order options and accessories for the Mac mini include: a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB DDR3 SDRAM, and 80GB, 250GB or 320GB 5400 hard drives.

These prices are an increase on the previous models. The entry-level Mac mini was £391 and is now £499. The higher spec model was £488, now £649. However, the new Mac mini offers significantly improved performance over the previous models.

The UK Apple Store lists both the 120GB and 320GB models as available now stating both "Ships: Within 24hrs."

The Mac mini comes with iLife ’09, including iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD.

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