Yesterday, amid all the noise about new aluminum iMacs, Apple silently gave a hardware refresh to its modest Mac mini, ending weeks of speculation that the company planned to pull the plug on the entry-level system altogether, at least for now.

Inside its tiny 2-inch-tall, 6.5-inch-square anodized aluminum enclosure, the older Intel Core Duo processor has been replaced with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor clocked from 1.83GHz on the low-end system to 2.0GHz on the higher-end version. Storage capacity and memory can be increased up to 160GB and 2GB, respectively. The Mac mini remains rather limited in its graphical performance, though. Both models include an Intel GMA 950 graphics processor with 64MB of video memory borrowed from shared main memory.

Apple's new iLife '08 software suite, which was also announced yesterday, is included, alongside the usual array of OS X 10.4 applications. Pricing for the revamped Mac mini remains at $599, while the higher-end model will set you back $799.