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Tuesday, August 07, 2007, 02:35 pm PT (05:35 pm ET)

Apple updates Mac mini and AirPort, adds Mac Pro RAID card

Without fanfare, Apple Inc. on Tuesday unleashed a stealth refresh to its Mac mini desktop computer, upgraded its high-end Wi-Fi base station, and added a brand new RAID card option to its pro towers.

While AppleInsider remains confident that Apple ultimately intends to phase out the diminutive Mac, the Cupertino-based firm quietly updated existing models with faster processors on Tuesday.

Although Apple made no mention of the update during its media event or in the ensuing press releases, Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook confirmed the slight refresh during a Q&A session following the company's announcements. The subtle update to the Mac mini is the first in nearly a year.

The 2-inch tall systems are the last to receive a boost to Core 2 Duo processors, moving up from 1.66GHz and 1.83GHz Core Duo processors to 1.83GHz and 2.0GHz chips with a 667MHz system bus, similar to current MacBooks.

Memory and storage have also been upgraded, Apple says. Every model ships with 1GB of RAM, while hard disk space climbs from 60GB to 80GB on the base 1.83GHz model and from 80GB to 120GB for the 2.0GHz computer.

Both systems keep the same $599 (1.83GHz) and $799 (2.0GHz) price points as earlier systems, and are immediately available.

Two peripherals also reached the Apple Store on Tuesday without a separate announcement.

AirPort Extreme revision

The AirPort Extreme Base Station introduced in January now adds gigabit Ethernet without a price hike ($179).

PCI Express RAID card

Meanwhile, Mac Pro buyers can now also outfit their systems with a PCI Express RAID card that provides hardware acceleration for mirrored or striped disk arrays and enables new RAID 0+1 and 5 modes with both mirroring and striping. Previously, the Mac Pro depended on software RAID and was limited to either mirroring or striping alone.

The card adds $999 to the cost of a Mac Pro and, as of Tuesday, isn't available separately for existing Mac Pro users searching for an upgrade.