Don't know about your philosophies.
Mac mini 2011 core i5 (radeon 6630m) works fine with Snow Leopard.
(Just cannot boot from 10.6-media (DVD or external HD) for install.)
1. Image an existing SL 10.6.8 installation (mine a core2duo mac mini), prepare for restore (images/check image for restore).
2. Boot the new mac mini in target mode (holding T when booting).
3. For Safety, image (disk utility) the preinstalled, existing lion installation.
4. Maybe format the hard disk (only if you want to get rid of the recovery partition).
5. Restore the image (choose delete = blockcopy).
6. Boot the mac mini holding alt key to choose hd as boot partition.
Works (quick overview, not indepth testing), including sleep, all system programs, cs4 - enjoy.
for firmware pw:
- format, boot apple-R, takes a while for network rescue, then choose firmware pw programm
- don't format (leaving lion rescue, after installing image boot apple-R and set pw, reboot alt to choose hd