(Source: Universal Pictures)
According to Dell the smell is not hazardous to your health (though possibly hazardous to your image)

Dell engineers have finally gotten to the bottom of a bizarre defect that made its latest and greatest Latitude 6430u ultrabooks smell like cat urine.

Complaints about the Windows 8 laptop -- targeted at high-end business users -- began in June.  A Dell forums user "Three West" griped regarding the stench:

A few weeks ago I got a new Lattitude 6430u for work.  The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat's litter box. It is truly awful!

Mr. Jinx
Mr. Jinx knows not to pee on the laptop. [Image Source: Universal Pictures]

Another user ("Hoteca") comments:

I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue. It's embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad.

Dell deserves some credit for at least promptly responding to the complaints, but it took the company months of lab testing to try to get to the root of the problem.  After several customers shipped their smelly laptops to Dell's testing facilities, Dell support engineer "SteveB" posted a September update in the forums:

We really appreciate everyone's patience as we work thru this issue...

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the smell is not related to cat urine or any other type of biological contaminate nor is it a health hazard. Keep watching this thread and we should be able to put out more details later this week. Again, thanks for your patience as we work thru this issue.

Dell 6430u

On Oct. 14 after a series of updates and yet more user complaints, he informs:

We really appreciate everyone's patience as we work thru this issue. The problem has been resolved and the past few weeks I have been waiting on engineering to release detailed information on a root cause and resolution. We are currently waiting on final engineering failure analysis for a definitive root cause which is expected to come any day now. Once we have this, we can make an official comment. In the meantime, I'll provide a few details of what we do know.
  • The smell was related to a manufacturing process that has now been changed
  • The smell is not in any way related to biological contamination
  • The smell is not at all health hazard
  • If you order an E6430u now, it will not have the issue
As soon as we have final engineering failure analysis, more information will be posted on how to immediately resolve the issue. We hope to have the information this week so please keep watching this thread. 

Initially Dell suggested users spray their laptops with compressed air, but that didn't work according to a number of users.  Dell is now suggesting users ship back their laptops so it can replace the palm rest (the part of the enclosure that wraps the keyboard and touchpad, with space for the palms on either side), indicating the problem may lie in that component.  Some users had already disassembled their laptops and determined the smell was coming from that part.

The entire thread was dissected by Redditors, many of whom enjoyed great amusement at Dell's expense.

Smelly laptops aside, there's plenty at Dell that's stunk of late.  The veteran PC maker has struggled financially as it has seen sales fall.  The company, with some help from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), recently went private, hoping to gain more control over its production decision.  That moves has helped some struggling companies in the past.

Sources: Dell Forums, Reddit

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