Short version: my PC is unstable when I run Microsoft Windows 8 Professional (64-bit), but the system is completely stable when I run Arch Linux off of another partition on the same SSD. This problem started out of the blue a few days ago, it does not correspond with any hardware or software modifications. The PC is a previous generation i5 with an AMD 7870 "MYST" edition, assembled from components (most of which were purchased new this spring), and all relevant firmware has been updated.
When things go bad, they really go bad. If music is playing, it loops. If the display is on, it stops updating and the mouse becomes unresponsive. Keyboard lights don't work when hitting caps / num lock. Interestingly, the HD activity light is solid. The system does not respond to ping. The only recourse is a power cycle / reset button.
Memory diagnostics are A-OK.
This is especially intriguing to me because it seems somewhat random. I've yet to have it actually die while playing a game; indeed, it seems to not occur while under heavy load.
I partially suspect there's some horrible issue with the SSD, a Crucial M4 256GB. This is speculation but based on a few observations:
1) It never happens in Linux; although on the same disk, since it is partitioned, perhaps there is some area of NAND that is defective which only the NTFS partition touches?
2) Usually when I have observed the system die during active use, it was performing I/O operations (Steam updating, downloading things, etc)
3) This drive shipped with a pretty legendary and hilarious bug which caused it to fail when a SMART counter overflowed (after 5000 hours of uptime). This was fixed in a firmware update which I have applied, but that causes me to generally distrust the hardware.
So... I'm somewhat at a loss. Windows doesn't report anything interesting in its event log, so it's difficult for me to guess what might be happening. Has anybody seen this particular behavior in Microsoft Windows? Does it even make sense that it might be the SSD? In my experience when storage goes bad on Linux, a system will often keep running (to some extent for some time), but in this case everything seems completely hosed immediately, which makes me concerned it's something else.