This is the hair set up I've been working with in a nutshell - DX11shader and Viewport 2.0 for maya.  I can see what the hell I'm doing!  I aim for 10-20k tris for most hairs, not cheap but they end up looking pretty good and I'm still in budget for the characters.

-Use a .tga with an alpha channel and plug it into a dx11 shader.

This one is work in progress so it would get some more strips and strays and edgeflow refinement in the end.