The only gold I hunt is the funny ring-shaped nuggets found on beaches, so this is biased to that rather than searching for native gold.
$2k will pretty much put you in the upper quarter of machines anyway.
Maybe look at the XP Deus - I don’t know the machine personally, but reports from users in webland seem to be favourable and it seems to have a bit of bang-for-buck down to the wet sand on the beach. Although if you want to actively hunt in or very close to the salt water then you’re looking for the Excal or similar, but will need the straight shaft mod to stop your arms being pulled out of their sockets after a few hours (it’s designed for diving, so weight/balance are against you in the stock setup)
Problem is if you ask any swinger, you usually get the answer that their machine is the best. And it probably is, for them. Best advice is to read the ‘unsponsored’ reviews which pretty much eliminates any website that sells detectors and a few posters in forums.
So, ignoring all the above I run an Excal on the beach and AT Pro on land to good effect and have no reason to change.