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Apple Store customer receives upgraded Mac mini

A European Apple store customer who ordered a single-core Mac mini desktop computer this past weekend was surprised to find that he was shipped a dual-core system at no additional charge.

In a post to MacBidouille, the customer said he ordered a 1.5GHz Core Solo Mac mini, which typically comes standard with a 60GB hard drive and a Combo drive capable of burning CDs and reading DVDs.

Much to his surprise, the order arrived in the form of a 1.66GHz Core Duo Mac mini with a 100GB hard drive and a SuperDrive capable of writing both CD and DVD discs.

"On the box, the specifications are those of a Mac mini Core Solo," the customer said.

Recent reports indicated that Apple's Mac mini inventory levels had been run down and that the company was refusing to fill bulk orders of the petite desktop computers. Availability of the computers was said to improve in early September when "new models" would become available.

It's yet unclear whether the Apple store customer's order was a mistake or the start of a silent update to the Mac mini line. Representatives at Apple's US-based online store said they had no knowledge of a silent upgrade to the Mac mini line, nor had they heard of any similar instances of such orders being received.

Quietly slipping upgraded Mac minis into retail boxes designed for their predecessors is not new for Apple. Around this same time last year, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company began shipping 1.33GHz and 1.5GHz models inside retail boxes designed for 1.25GHz and 1.42GHz models. The updated models also featured several other under-the-hood enhancements.

It's believed that Apple uses such tactics clear inventory without having to offer price reductions. Instead, it promises customers that they will receive a system with specifications that equal to or greater than those listed on the retail boxes. This allows it to exhaust inventory of previous models in some locations, while supplying other locations, which may be void of stock, with the new models.