Mac Mini 2011 rear

There are times when the Mac Mini feels like the forgotten child of the Apple computer line-up, so much so that barely any rumors had circulated that a refresh was imminent.  Despite that, as Mac OS X Lion rolled out this morning along with a new MacBook Air and new displays, so did an update to the Mac Mini.

The new versions of the tiny Mac comes in two basic configurations, each sporting Intel Core i5 or i7 dual-core processors.  If you want to go up to a server configuration, which has been a popular tasks for these devices, you can opt for one with quad-core i7 heart.  All of the new versions of course also got the new Thunderbolt I/O slot, which is of course perfect to work with the new displays that released today as well.  You’ll find an SDXC card slot on the back, HDMI out, a gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 slots and mic/earphone ports.  All models are configurable up to 8GB of RAM 256GB solid state drives are available as well.

If you stick with base configurations, the cheapest model will run $599 for a regular version and $999 for the server.

“Mac Mini delivers the speed and expandability that makes it perfect for the desktop, living room or office,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With faster processors, more powerful graphics and Thunderbolt in an incredibly compact, aluminum design, the new Mac mini is more versatile than ever.”

The Mac Mini has always been touted as the perfect device for Windows users to switch over to the Mac as you can bring your own keyboard, mouse and display with you, but this model is feeling a bit different to me now.  The display-out options are certainly all for high-end monitors, and not something most people just have laying around their homes.  Most of the world still has a ton of displays still using the old pin connectors, and not HDMI, USB and most assuredly not Thunderbolt.  It looks to me as if the Mac Mini is changing its designated user base a bit.

What do you think?  Any interest in the new Mac Mini?