Apple’s new Mac mini ditches the optical-drive

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Mac OS X and the MacBook Air weren’t the only Apple products to receive updates on Wednesday -- Apple’s Mac mini gained a few new features and lost an optical drive too.

Like the MacBook Air laptop, Apple has worked Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors into the Mac mini, as well as beefier graphics chips, which the Cupertino company says adds up to performance that is twice as fast as the outgoing models.


The little desktop, a prime example of the tech giant’s minimal design ethos (it’s just an aluminum block after all), also gains a new high-speed Thunderbolt port to sit alongside the carry-over of four USB ports and one HDMI port (yes, it can be hooked up to a TV).

The new Mac mini ships with Mac OS X Lion, Apple’s desktop and laptop operating system, and falls in price about $100 to start at $599, though with more memory and other options the price can hit a high of $1,849.

Like the previous generation Mac mini, which had a ‘super drive’ CD/DVD player and burner built-in, the refreshed Mac mini has a one-piece aluminum body and is just 1.4-inches tall with a 7.7-inch square shape.

‘Mac mini is designed without an optical disc drive. Because these days, you don’t need one,’ Apple says on its website. ‘It’s easier than ever to download music and movies from the iTunes Store. And you can download apps from the Mac App Store with a click.’

However, for those not quite ready for Apple’s disc-free future (there may be a couple of you out there), there are some workarounds if a DVD is needed to install software, or a CD needs to be ripped to iTunes. Mac OS X Lion enables the Mac mini to access the optical drives on other PCs and Macs wirelessly for such tasks and it also can work with an external USB optical drive.

And, as always, the Mac mini comes without a keyboard or mouse.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles