At a special event in Cupertino today, Apple announced new Mac minis running on Intel Core Solo and Core Duo processors, making the machine 2.5x to 3x faster than the G4 models they replaced (according to Apple). Aside from the updated processor specifications, the new Mac mini features an integrated graphics chipset--called the Intel GMA950 graphics processor--which shares a minimum of 80MB of the system's 512MB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM.

Gamers generally loath integrated graphics: integrated chips share RAM with the system, making for a slower computer and a bad GPU (system RAM is much slower than dedicated VRAM). This is the first machine Apple has released without a dedicated graphics card. Previously the Mac mini featured a Radeon 9200 with 32 64MB of dedicated VRAM - not a brilliant chip, but one that doesn't rely on drawing RAM from the system.

While the Mac mini was never designed to be a gaming machine, it was intended to draw PC owners into buying a second, cheap BYODKM (bring your own display, keyboard and mouse) Macintosh. By including crippled graphics hardware (possibly as part of a price-reduced deal with Intel) Apple has ignored a potential market of casual PC gamers that would have picked up a Mac mini had it included a capable graphics chipset. With ATI and NVIDIA offering an array of outstanding Mobile chipsets (that fit into the Mac mini's low-power/small-size design ethos) we see little reason for this step backwards.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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