Is This the (Rear) Face of the New Mac Mini?

macminiThis photo has been making the rounds since yesterday, after having originally popped up in the MacRumors forums. The photo’s poster claims that it is the business end of the new, redesigned Mac mini, which he was apparently shown by a friend. No word on who that friend might have been, but “Monthy,” the original poster, does claim the new machines will be on store shelves in about a month or so, which is convenient given his name.

At first glance, the specs on this device seem preposterous, since it has five USB ports, which is unheard of outside of the Mac Pro line-up, and a FireWire 800 port, which seems bizarre considering the price range and its absence on Apple’s MacBook line of products. Plus, support for both Mini DisplayPort and Mini-DVI appears to be present, which, though I love Apple dearly, seems far too kind a gesture to be in character for the Cupertino-based computer company.

Monthy goes on to describe the internal specs of the new hardware, which include a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 3MB L2 Cache and 2GB of DDR3 RAM at 1066MHz, and a SATA HD (no word on base size). While not totally unthinkable, these do conflict with earlier reports that Apple would be moving to an Atom-based platform, with recent rumors even pointing to a device built around NVIDIA’s upcoming Ion platform.

While it may conflict with some rumors, it also agrees perfectly with some others, including predictions made much earlier by AppleInsider based on reports by “people familiar with the matter.” It is hard to deny that the picture, bearing exactly the hardware details outlined by AppleInsider in their January articles, doesn’t strike one as just a bit more genuine as a result. For what it’s worth, AppleInsider also claims the new photo depicts the exact same device as they had seen in a previous picture, which they were compelled not to share with the public.

I’m skeptical, because this seems to be a departure from the Apple-NVIDIA partnership that was meant to set the course of future hardware, but at the same time I’m hopeful, because this seems like an ideal machine for home theatre integration, especially if both of those video out ports can be used simultaneously. Add in a USB TV Tuner, replace the optical drive with a second HD, and you’ve got yourself one mean media server/DVR that can also hook up to a second monitor so that I can browse and watch without interruption or switching. Pardon my drooling.

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