Mac mini: Hello Thunderbolt, Goodbye SuperDrive

Apple introduced an updated Mac mini on Wednesday following the release of OS X Lion. The new Mac mini adds Thunderbolt support, and for the first time ships without a built-in optical drive on the non-server model.

Mac mini with ThunderboltMac mini, sans optical drive

New Mac minis ship with OS X Lion preinstalled, AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics instead of the integrated graphics chips used in previous models, a Thunderbolt port, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, USB 2.0, an SD camera card slot, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. They retain the same unibody design as the previous Mac mini.

Mac mini Thunderbolt portPlenty of ports, including Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt was introduced earlier this year on the MacBook Pro, and later was added to the iMac. It uses the same Mini DisplayPort connector as Apple’s displays, offers up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds, and can support six devices at the same time.

The 2.3GHz Core i5 model includes 2GB RAM and 500GB hard drive for US$599, and the 2.5GHz Core i5 model ships with 4GB RAM and 500GB hard drive for $799. The new computers will be available on Thursday, July 21.