Apple Unveils Dual-Core Mac Mini

On Tuesday, Apple began shipping new versions of its compact Mac mini desktop based on Intel’s dual-core Core Duo processor and single-core Core Solo chip.

The dual-core Mac mini, priced at $799, comes with a 1.66GHz Core Duo processor, 512 Mbytes of memory (expandable to 2 Gbytes), a slot-load SuperDrive DVD/CD burner, an 80-Gbyte Serial ATA hard drive, built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth, and Gigabit Ethernet, among other features.

Starting at $599, the single-core Mac mini has a 1.5GHz Core Solo processor and sports the same features as the dual-core model, except it houses a 60-Gbyte hard drive and a slot-load DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive.

Apple said 50 percent of its product line has now been shifted to Intel chips, putting the Cupertino, Calif., company far ahead of its original estimation that it would begin shipping Intel-based Macintosh computers by the middle of this year.

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Apple announced its first Intel-based systems, the new MacBook Pro notebook and an upgraded iMac desktop, in January. Many industry observers had expected Mac minis to be the first Intel-based Mac systems.

The new Mac minis appear targeted primarily at the consumer space, with Apple pitching them for consumer media and "lifestyle" applications. They include Apple’s iLife ‘06 suite of multimedia applications (iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb), Front Row media software and Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” operating system.