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Despite past rumors of the Mac mini's demise, Apple could finally update its smallest and cheapest computer before too long. Wired says it has learned from a source inside the company that Steve Jobs should launch a new-and-improved Mac mini at the Macworld show next month.

The refreshed system will have an aluminum enclosure, Wired says, and it will come in two variants: a $500 model with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo and Intel integrated graphics, and a $700 version with a 2.3GHz Core 2 Duo and a GeForce GPU (perhaps the same Nvidia chipset that powers current MacBooks). Apple will offer 2GB of memory as standard (upgradeable to 4GB), along with 160GB of mechanical storage, a slot-loading DVD drive, and a DisplayPort video connector.

Wired rightfully notes that such an upgrade would be long overdue. The current Mac mini starts at $599 and has a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel graphics, 1GB of RAM, and a 80GB hard drive—and that price doesn't include a monitor, keyboard, or mouse. Dell's slim Inspiron 530s desktop has better specs overall and sells for less than half the price.