It appears that Apple has quietly released an upgrade to the Mac mini - and they're not fessing up to it. Rather than do it with their usual press release and updated product page, Apple's quietly rolling out the zippier 1.5GHz minis in the 1.42GHz packaging. Users on message boards are claiming to have received 1.5GHz machines in 1.42GHz boxes. Although not confirmed, some also claim to have extra VRAM and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR chipsets in their Minis.
On Friday Apple confirmed that "Some Mac mini systems may contain components that slightly exceed the published specifications" but declined to go into any detail. The new specifications are pretty close to what AppleInsider published on 27 September in a story about a "significant Mac mini update." The AI story also indicates that the new minis will ship with faster 5400RPM drives, ATI Radeon 9200 GPUs with up to 64MB of VRAM and 8x double-layer SuperDrives.
The Apple Web site is still hawking the 1.42GHz minis.
The reason for all this is still a big mystery, but it appears to be either a manufacturing oversight or a glut of Mac mini boxes with 1.42GHz markings. In the past, Apple has been known to simply add an updated product spec sticker to the package, but that doesn't appear to be the case here. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice surprise to get a faster than advertised machine as a present, but as a consumer I want to know exactly what I'm buying too. Besides, how long will it be before people start getting disappointed that they're only getting a 1.4GHz machine in the box?
Either way, Apple is being forced to keep innovating with the Mac mini now that Windows hardware vendors are nipping at their heels. For more on the latest Wintel Mac mini clones, check out George Ou's blog The new Mac mini PC clone.