Have you tried the latest supported version of Intel® Rapid Storage?
Try testing version 10.8
Here is another question: why are there even newer 11.x versions which could not be downloaded from Intel but could be found on several other places on the web. For example the RST release 18.104.22.1681 reportedly fixes at least the CSMI pass-through regression. SMART and related functionality should work again (see CSMI command in RAID configuration).
Hi Allan and thanks for Your response.
I did as You suggested and downloaded the RST drivers, version 10.8.0.1003. Just the time to reboot the PC and I got the first freeze. After half a minute the PC "came back to life", just in time to restore the MS AHCI driver.
If it can help, the freeze was traced in the Windows Event Viewer, where I found an error with the following description:
"The device \Device\Ide\iaStor0 didn't respond within the expected time" (I'm traslating from the Italian version of Windows, the actual English message could differ).
Now I'm back with the generic MS AHCI driver and the PC behaves normally.